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Publisher's Summary

During the first three decades of the 20th century, eugenics, the scientific control of human breeding, was a popular cause within enlightened and progressive segments of the English-speaking world. The New York Times eagerly supported it, gushing about the wonderful "new science." Prominent scientists, such as the plant biologist Luther Burbank, were among its most enthusiastic supporters. And the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations generously funded eugenic research intended to distinguish the "fit" from the "unfit."

This prophetic volume counters the intellectual nihilism of Nietzsche, while simultaneously rebuking Western notions of progress - biological or otherwise. Chesterton expands his criticism of eugenics into what he calls "a more general criticism of the modern craze for scientific officialism and strict social organization."

Public Domain (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Eugenics and Other Evils

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  • No to Statism
  • 26-07-2019

Truly Great!

This is one of the best G.K. Chesterton audiobooks here on Audible. This is true for 2 reasons. First Mr. Chesterton shares here some of his best insights, and secondly Derek Perkins does a superb job bringing those insights to life! This is certainly one of my favorite audiobooks, and with that, I say thank you Audible for offering it here!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Stephen Krieger
  • 18-09-2020

Prescient thoughts and logic

I tend to appreciate Chesterton’s thinking and really enjoy his fiction. This work is a wonderful insight into the thoughts and arguments against both early capitalism and early socialism. Interestingly, while I often hear Chesterton quotes from the political right, he’s no friendlier to the capitalist than to the Marxist. Of all his books this does highlight the problematic way in which Chesterton addresses ethnicity and race. While I don’t view him as outright anti-Semitic or racist as some do, he certainly is at best a product of his time. Granted that, the book’s primary logic about the oppression of the poor and disenfranchised by the rich, is apt for our world and the turmoil therein.

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  • Ray
  • 01-02-2019

So Many Parallels

this book provides so much insight I can hardly believe it was written almost one hundred years ago. Much like Mein Kampf, the writing slices away at modernity with a double edged sword. As America grows and swells, the people are groaning for a savior. Hopefully this book can help lead someone to Christ because it draws heavily from truths in the Bible.

10 people found this helpful

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  • K. Doerr
  • 19-01-2021

Never more timely

If you don't know the history of the Eugenics movement, and how it swept through academia more than 100 years ago, snaring even Karl Pearson into promoting the idea of Ubermensch, you won't find a funnier introduction to an idea that killed 100 million people than this book.
To fully understand the irony of the current wave of racism, you really need to start with that silly syphilitic Nietzsche, and work your way through Hitler and Rand to our current little titans.
Or, you could read this book. Sort of the Cliff Notes to the devolution of a stupid idea. Clear thinking about how evil people can be when their self-serving biases make them think they are doing good. With jokes.

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  • John
  • 14-11-2021

Anarchy from Above

While some details have changed in the century since this book first appeared—for example, rather than oppressing the poor with low wages, we now use subsidies—the main thesis stands as true as ever. We moderns may not call it eugenics, but we still dispose of our unwanted in the most up-to-date, scientifically approved manner. It’s just one facet of what Chesterton calls “anarchy from above”:

“Now it is plain that this sort of chaos can possess the powers that rule a society as easily as the society so ruled. And…it is the powers that rule who are chiefly possessed by it—who are truly possessed by devils. The phrase, in its sound old psychological sense, is not too strong. The State has suddenly and quietly gone mad. It is talking nonsense; and it can't stop.”

Yet for all his dire analysis, Chesterton can still make you laugh out loud – a sure sign of his profound sanity. As he says, “We have to be flippant about these things, as the only alternative to being rather fierce.” To reviewers who want to peg him as liberal or conservative, I can only say he was Catholic, and so able to take the best from both sides (no doubt an essential source of his sanity). As with The Everlasting Man, Derek Perkins' delivery suits Chesterton’s style to perfection.

Note: For an historian’s account of the eugenics movement, there’s no better picture that Richard Overy’s The Twilight Years: The Paradox of Britain Between the Wars.

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  • Alex H.
  • 20-10-2021

A still relevant topic in the current year

While Chesterton suffers from some from being very much a man of his time and place, he still lays out eloquent and well-reasoned arguments for his rallying against eugenics and other social ills.

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  • Moderator
  • 12-09-2021

A POLITE OBJECTION TO THE ARROGANCE OF EUGENICS

You will learn something about Eugenics. This book is thought provoking. It's a very English view.

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  • adam k
  • 07-09-2021

Pompous and high handed

The entirety of this book is written in a pompous and high handed manner. The author is more interested in telling the reader how stupid he is than the actual concept of eugenics. The book concentrates solely on the political aspect and not at all on the scientific concepts. That said, it does bring up several very interesting points testing points. Such as the obvious fact that the implementation of eugenics is not possible.

The narrator does a good job however. And it does get into a more spiritual level of the conversation. All in all, a good good overall read.. If you can wade through the dribble.

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  • Rodger Jensen
  • 23-08-2021

Still relevant today

Quality reading and insightful prose that one would expect from Chesterton. Although eugenics seems to have passed out of vogue scientism has not, unfortunately. So much here is relevant to this Covid situation.

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  • Aly T.
  • 12-07-2021

Polemic against eugenics, capitalism, socialism

I wish I was more intelligent, and understood the early 19th century better. GK Chesterton is always an impressive writer, his prose is unrivaled. But there are a lot of nuances to this work that has to be digested and contextualized with the day it was written.

Ulimately, this is an excellent book that addresses the problem of eugenics, 19th century capitalism, and socialism.

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  • David Mullins
  • 21-10-2018

Prescient

GK saw the evil fruit in the seed and tried to warn us. We did not listen. Now we are living in a world with a de facto eugenic mentality.

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  • Daniel R.
  • 07-11-2021

Great job

clearly read. interesting and classic philosophy book. would recommend this version to new readers.

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  • 匿名
  • 25-09-2021

Really very waffly

This book doesn't stick closely enough to the issues of eugenics to be worth your time. It lacks self awareness, paints various groups of people with broad brushes, waffles alot dispite dismaying about other styles of waffle and has increadabley old views on the nature of humans, biology, thiology, sociology and sciance in general, so much so, that this book just isn't valuable in learning about the issue of eugenics. This book's only real use now is as record of historical opinion.

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  • Tom O'Rourke
  • 16-09-2021

Superb

Excellent reading for the lifelong learners and the ageless polymath students of all subjects

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  • Chris Barnard
  • 07-08-2021

A must read, as its going on today ....

Well researched, well written and well read. I would recommend this to anybody wishing to expand their knowledge.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-08-2020

Good read

I enjoyed the narration and it is engaging. Eugenics is definitely mentioned but speaks of other evils more than I would personally like. Will listen to it again and speaks of a different time which is interesting and speaks of men he interviewed as eugenics scientists and politicians.

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