From the Publisher
“Spiro’s text is organized by theme, sacrificing clear chronology for a better grasp of Grant’s pervasive influence—a worthwhile trade that keeps the narrative comprehensive and enlightening, peeling back layers of history to expose America’s casual racism and the disturbing ways American law set the precedent for Nazi atrocities. A superb reintroduction to one of America's most complex modern figures.”—Publishers Weekly
“In this exhaustively researched biography, Spiro masterfully details Grant’s ideas and accomplishments with wit and style. . . .Grant has long deserved better than he has gotten from historians and at long last Jonathan Spiro has given Madison Grant exactly what he deserved.”—Journal of the History of Biology
“In spotlighting the connection between wildlife management and eugenics, Spiro has put his finger on something important. The obsession with improving breeding stock linked Grant with Hitler on the right and with other more respectable eugenicists on the left, including Margaret Sanger (who promoted birth control) and Theodore Roosevelt (who hated it).”—The New Republic
“Accessible and engaging . . . Spiro’s biography recaptures an important strain of early twentieth-century American thought and reflects the complexity of its connections to other major ideas of the period.”—Pacific Historical Review
Spiro's unfortunately-titled new book is a comprehensive examination of a powerful but nearly forgotten American figure, Madison Grant. A chief proponent of conservation, Grant spearheaded the creation of several national parks but also, as one of the most fervent proponents of science-based racism, introduced the world to the concept of the "master race." Grant's theories had an immeasurable effect on the turn-of-the-century world; a patrician academic who never held elected office, Grant nevertheless became a close confidante to several presidents, helping shape national policy on issues including conservation to immigration. Spiro also explores the complex history of the international eugenics movement and how it influenced organizations from the Nazi party to Planned Parenthood. Spiro's text is organized by theme, sacrificing clear chronology for a better grasp of Grant's pervasive influence-a worthwhile trade that keeps the narrative comprehensive and enlightening, peeling back layers of history to expose America's casual racism and the disturbing ways American law set the precedent for Nazi atrocities. A superb re-introduction to one of America's most complex modern figures, Spiro's account can only be faulted for a tendency to dig too deeply, occasionally stalling in minutiae.
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