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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Lisa A Ennis, MA, MS (University of Alabama at Birmingham)
Description: In this book, Ian Dowbiggin, Professor and Chair of the Department History at the University of Prince Edward Island and author of A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America (Oxford University Press, 2003), traces the sterilization movement from its beginnings in the 1930s to the start of the 21st century.
Purpose: The author does an exceptional job of tracing the development of the sterilization movement and makes a good argument that it is a major cause of the present day "birth dearth." Throughout the work, he shows how sterilization efforts tended to target the poor and less fortunate. He also makes a compelling argument for what the legacy of the sterilization movement means for the future, as fewer and fewer young workers are available to support the aging baby boomers.
Audience: An accomplished historian and scholar, the author has crafted a book that is appealing to a variety of readers. Historians will be pleased with the accuracy and quantity of the notes while general readers will find the writing style accessible.
Features: Seven chapters cover the topic in chronological order. One of the strengths of this work is that the author discusses the events through the lens of the people that were involved. For instance, he begins with the life of Marian Olden, a contemporary of Margaret Sanger, giving the work context and humanity. A section of photos of the main personalities discussed in the book is included, as is an index, end notes for each chapter, and a bibliography.
Assessment: Painstakingly researched and well written, this book is a good addition to the growing body of work on eugenics. Of particular note is the author's use of archival materials. Overall, this book is recommended for all libraries, especially those with history of medicine and global issues collections.