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The Black Stork: Eugenics and the Death of Defective Babies in American Medicine and Motion Pictures Since 1915

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In the late 1910s Dr. Harry J. Haiselden, a prominent Chicago surgeon, electrified the nation by allowing the deaths of at least six infants he diagnosed as "defectives". He displayed the dying infants to journalists, wrote about them for the Hearst newspapers, and starred in a feature film about his crusade. Prominent Americans from Clarence Darrow to Helen Keller rallied In the late 1910s Dr. Harry J. Haiselden, a prominent Chicago surgeon, electrified the nation by allowing the deaths of at least six infants he diagnosed as "defectives". He displayed the dying infants to journalists, wrote about them for the Hearst newspapers, and starred in a feature film about his crusade. Prominent Americans from Clarence Darrow to Helen Keller rallied to his support. Martin Pernick tells this captivating story--uncovering forgotten sources and long-lost motion pictures--in order to show how efforts to improve human heredity (eugenics) became linked with mercy killing, as well as with race, class, gender and ethnicity. It documents the impact of cultural values on science along with the way scientific claims of objectivity shape modern culture. While focused on early 20th century America, The Black Stork traces these issues from antiquity to the rise of Nazism, and to the "Baby Doe", "assisted suicide" and human genome initiative debates of today.


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In the late 1910s Dr. Harry J. Haiselden, a prominent Chicago surgeon, electrified the nation by allowing the deaths of at least six infants he diagnosed as "defectives". He displayed the dying infants to journalists, wrote about them for the Hearst newspapers, and starred in a feature film about his crusade. Prominent Americans from Clarence Darrow to Helen Keller rallied In the late 1910s Dr. Harry J. Haiselden, a prominent Chicago surgeon, electrified the nation by allowing the deaths of at least six infants he diagnosed as "defectives". He displayed the dying infants to journalists, wrote about them for the Hearst newspapers, and starred in a feature film about his crusade. Prominent Americans from Clarence Darrow to Helen Keller rallied to his support. Martin Pernick tells this captivating story--uncovering forgotten sources and long-lost motion pictures--in order to show how efforts to improve human heredity (eugenics) became linked with mercy killing, as well as with race, class, gender and ethnicity. It documents the impact of cultural values on science along with the way scientific claims of objectivity shape modern culture. While focused on early 20th century America, The Black Stork traces these issues from antiquity to the rise of Nazism, and to the "Baby Doe", "assisted suicide" and human genome initiative debates of today.

30 review for The Black Stork: Eugenics and the Death of Defective Babies in American Medicine and Motion Pictures Since 1915

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dixie Diamond

    This is a disturbing but very interesting book. Pernick appears to grasp completely the complexity of the subject, is mindful of the differences in culture and attitudes between 1915 and 2010, and seems comfortable with the limits of the information available to him, rather than over-speculating as some writers seem tempted to do when trying to write about an interesting topic with little available research material.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Read this in manuscript before it was published, as the author was my professor. Excellent discussion of eugenics, both from a medical, historical, and film perspective.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    This was not the book I expected.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Leaflet

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jill Monroe

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ruby

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dominic Mangino

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rufus

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Horn

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Glant

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

  13. 4 out of 5

    Taryn

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    Rex

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Rabon

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maria Porpora

  17. 5 out of 5

    Luna Holmes

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bailey Quiroga

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jen

  20. 5 out of 5

    Allyson Dyar

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  22. 5 out of 5

    George Sherwood

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mike Farrell

  24. 5 out of 5

    KDB

  25. 4 out of 5

    Colin

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susan Koble

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

  28. 4 out of 5

    Heather D-n

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Em

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