web site hit counter A Disability History of the United States - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

A Disability History of the United States

Availability: Ready to download

The first book to cover the entirety of disability history, from pre-1492 to the present   Disability is not just the story of someone we love or the story of whom we may become; rather it is undoubtedly the story of our nation. Covering the entirety of US history from pre-1492 to the present, A Disability History of the United States is the first book to place the experienc The first book to cover the entirety of disability history, from pre-1492 to the present   Disability is not just the story of someone we love or the story of whom we may become; rather it is undoubtedly the story of our nation. Covering the entirety of US history from pre-1492 to the present, A Disability History of the United States is the first book to place the experiences of people with disabilities at the center of the American narrative. In many ways, it’s a familiar telling. In other ways, however, it is a radical repositioning of US history. By doing so, the book casts new light on familiar stories, such as slavery and immigration, while breaking ground about the ties between nativism and oralism in the late nineteenth  century and the role of ableism in the development of democracy.   A Disability History of the United States pulls from primary-source documents and social histories to retell American history through the eyes, words, and impressions of the people who lived it. As historian and disability scholar Nielsen argues, to understand disability history isn’t to narrowly focus on a series of individual triumphs but rather to examine mass movements and pivotal daily events through the lens of varied experiences. Throughout the book, Nielsen deftly illustrates how concepts of disability have deeply shaped the American experience—from deciding who was allowed to immigrate to establishing labor laws and justifying slavery and gender discrimination. Included are absorbing—at times horrific—narratives of blinded slaves being thrown overboard and women being involuntarily sterilized, as well as triumphant accounts of disabled miners organizing strikes and disability rights activists picketing Washington.   Engrossing and profound, A Disability History of the United States fundamentally reinterprets how we view our nation’s past: from a stifling master narrative to a shared history that encompasses us all.


Compare

The first book to cover the entirety of disability history, from pre-1492 to the present   Disability is not just the story of someone we love or the story of whom we may become; rather it is undoubtedly the story of our nation. Covering the entirety of US history from pre-1492 to the present, A Disability History of the United States is the first book to place the experienc The first book to cover the entirety of disability history, from pre-1492 to the present   Disability is not just the story of someone we love or the story of whom we may become; rather it is undoubtedly the story of our nation. Covering the entirety of US history from pre-1492 to the present, A Disability History of the United States is the first book to place the experiences of people with disabilities at the center of the American narrative. In many ways, it’s a familiar telling. In other ways, however, it is a radical repositioning of US history. By doing so, the book casts new light on familiar stories, such as slavery and immigration, while breaking ground about the ties between nativism and oralism in the late nineteenth  century and the role of ableism in the development of democracy.   A Disability History of the United States pulls from primary-source documents and social histories to retell American history through the eyes, words, and impressions of the people who lived it. As historian and disability scholar Nielsen argues, to understand disability history isn’t to narrowly focus on a series of individual triumphs but rather to examine mass movements and pivotal daily events through the lens of varied experiences. Throughout the book, Nielsen deftly illustrates how concepts of disability have deeply shaped the American experience—from deciding who was allowed to immigrate to establishing labor laws and justifying slavery and gender discrimination. Included are absorbing—at times horrific—narratives of blinded slaves being thrown overboard and women being involuntarily sterilized, as well as triumphant accounts of disabled miners organizing strikes and disability rights activists picketing Washington.   Engrossing and profound, A Disability History of the United States fundamentally reinterprets how we view our nation’s past: from a stifling master narrative to a shared history that encompasses us all.

30 review for A Disability History of the United States

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    About what you'd expect for a survey of 300+ years that weighs in at under 200 pages. Uneven coverage of different disabilities or types of disabilities and reliant upon secondary sources. I wish it had been organized thematically instead of just chronologically, because the examples within each historical period didn't necessarily hang together just because they occurred at roughly the same time. Also, seemed like Neilsen was trying hard to write for a general audience, but her tone swung betwe About what you'd expect for a survey of 300+ years that weighs in at under 200 pages. Uneven coverage of different disabilities or types of disabilities and reliant upon secondary sources. I wish it had been organized thematically instead of just chronologically, because the examples within each historical period didn't necessarily hang together just because they occurred at roughly the same time. Also, seemed like Neilsen was trying hard to write for a general audience, but her tone swung between scholarly ("discourses") and casual (even using contractions sometimes). I've read some other disability and medical history and was intrigued by the connection between disability and the lack of ability to work, and I learned more about how phenomena like industrialization and slavery caused disabilities. I actually don't mind that Neilsen doesn't have a disability, because I saw this as her trying to understand why she is socially defined as able-bodied while others aren't.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    This was a good beginner's primer to the history of disability in the US. I think it was a great choice to add to the library at my work. I appreciated the intersectional analyses of race, class, gender and sexuality that is so often missing from books like this--not that there are many in the first place. I do think that there could have easily been more depth in each chapter, and was a bit disappointed that it ended with the passage of the ADA which was about 25 years ago now; it would have be This was a good beginner's primer to the history of disability in the US. I think it was a great choice to add to the library at my work. I appreciated the intersectional analyses of race, class, gender and sexuality that is so often missing from books like this--not that there are many in the first place. I do think that there could have easily been more depth in each chapter, and was a bit disappointed that it ended with the passage of the ADA which was about 25 years ago now; it would have been nice to have examples of organizing that has gone on since then. Definitely recommended for folks looking for a readable introductory overview of the subject.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kara Jorgensen

    Interesting, and I like the intersectional approach. At times, I wish there were more specifics on groups, like the blind, deaf, or those with epilepsy, etc.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Book

    A Disability History of the United States by Kim E. Nielsen "A Disability History of the United States" is the informative book about the history of the United States through experiences of people with disabilities. It's a story of stigma and pride denied, it's a journey of overcoming special challenges to make oneself at home. Professor of history and author of three books, Kim E. Nielsen takes the reader on an enlightening and often-disregarded history in the United States through the lives of A Disability History of the United States by Kim E. Nielsen "A Disability History of the United States" is the informative book about the history of the United States through experiences of people with disabilities. It's a story of stigma and pride denied, it's a journey of overcoming special challenges to make oneself at home. Professor of history and author of three books, Kim E. Nielsen takes the reader on an enlightening and often-disregarded history in the United States through the lives of people with disabilities. The book begins prior to European conquest and colonization and ends to the present time. I found the book to be more informational than inspirational but overall educational, I appreciate the author's candor for the need to explore even further and this book will help whet the appetite of such pursuits. This instructive 272-page book is composed is the following eight chapters: 1. The spirit chooses the body it will occupy: Indigenous North America, Pre-1492, 2. The poor, vicious, and infirm: Colonial Communities, 1492-1700, 3. The miserable wretches were then thrown into the sea: The Late Colonial Era, 1700-1776, 4. The deviant and the independent: Creating Citizens, 1776-1865, 5. I am disabled, and must go at something else besides hard labor: The Institutionalization of Disability, 1865-1890, 6. Three generations of imbeciles are enough: The Progressive Era, 1890-1927, 7. We don't want tin cups: Laying the Groundwork, 1927-1968, and 8. I guess I'm an activist. I think it's just caring: Rights and Rights Denied, 1968-. Positives: 1. Straightforward accessible prose, a well researched and enlightening book. 2. An interesting and often overlooked topic. 3. The author does a wonderful job of being fair and even-handed. There is no political agenda whatsoever in this book; it's all about telling a story as accurately as possible. Bravo. 4. The description of disability. What is has been equated to and the struggle to redefine it. 5. The author does a good job through countless examples, to describe the struggles that people with disabilities have lived with and continue to do so. It's also interesting to see the evolution of the struggle. 6. The book takes the reader on a journey through time, progressing chronologically through history and the experiences of people with disabilities. 7. Indigenous understanding of disability. How the western concepts of wellness tragically conflicted with the indigenous embrace of body, mind and spirit as one. 8. The effects of European incursions. How early European colonists viewed disability. 9. The impact of racist ideologies. Tragic stories. The vicious tenets of scientific racism. Slavery. 10. Categorizing disability. Understanding the new nation's quest to define good and "bad" citizens. Incompetent citizenship. "Dumb" residents. Legislation. The many different categories of disability and the factions and groups that form to combat societal indifferences . 11. The consequences of war. 12. There are some stories that will raise some eyebrows, "No woman, he warned, could simultaneously use 'a good brain' and a good reproductive system that serve the race." Thankfully, times have changed generally for the better. 13. An exploration of the eugenics, oralist movements. Immigration restrictions and state compulsory-sterilization laws. "The belief that an immigrant was unfit to work justified exclusion, but so did the belief that an immigrant was likely to encounter discrimination because of disability." Some stories will make your jaws drop. 14. The impact of industrialization. 15. The period that led to activism among people with disabilities. The legislation that resulted from such activism. Education, opportunities. 16. The impact of diseases, polio as an example. 17. Overcoming architectural barriers through legislation. 18. The struggle to overcome employment discrimination. 19. Disability activism, disability pride and empowerment. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. 20. Links worked great. Negatives: 1. My biggest complaint has to do with style versus substance. The book lacked passion or panache, it is clearly more informational than inspirational. 2. A section of acronyms was warranted. 3. A summary of laws enacted would have added value. 4. An excellent notes section but no formal bibliography. 5. This book is more an appetizer than the main entree but it's a very good appetizer indeed. In summary, this is quite an educational book. As an engineer I have firsthand knowledge of dealing with productivity and instrumentation as it relates to human methods but my history on disability was sadly lacking. This book did a wonderful job of filling that void. This book caught my eye and I'm very pleased to have read it. My only major criticism and it's merely one of style than substance, is the lack of passion or panache. The book is definitely more informative than inspirational, so if you the reader are looking for a book that inspires a call for action this is not that type of book. Sticking to her professorial roots, Nielsen took the educational route and in doing so did accomplish the goal of enlightening the public on this seldom-covered topic. "The Disability History of the United States" fills a void of knowledge, I recommend it! Further suggestions: "A Journey Into the Deaf-World" by Harlan Lane, Robert Hoffmeister and Ben Bahan, "Miracle Boy Grows Up: How the Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity" by Ben Mattlin, "No Pity : People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement" by Joseph P. Shapiro, "Reflections from a Different Journey : What Adults with Disabilities Wish All Parents Knew" by Stanley Klein and John Kemp, "From Disability to Possibility: The Power of Inclusive Classrooms" by Patrick Schwarz, "The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public (The History of Disability)" by Susan M. Schweik, "One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All" by Mark Robert Rank, and "Encyclopedia of American Disability History (3 Volume set)" by Susan Burch.

  5. 5 out of 5

    0

    While providing only a brief survey of disability in the US, Nielsen consistently reminds readers that disability is stratified by race, gender, class, and sexuality. Historically, disability has been bound up with oppression (women, queers, poor people, and POC have all been understood as disabled at times) and with assumptions about one's ability to engage in productive labor. Industrialization intensified the number of people with disabilities (due to unsafe living and working conditions) and While providing only a brief survey of disability in the US, Nielsen consistently reminds readers that disability is stratified by race, gender, class, and sexuality. Historically, disability has been bound up with oppression (women, queers, poor people, and POC have all been understood as disabled at times) and with assumptions about one's ability to engage in productive labor. Industrialization intensified the number of people with disabilities (due to unsafe living and working conditions) and the ways in which people with disabilities are oppressed. Nielsen addresses the negative effects of early liberal reforms focused on institutionalizing and"remediating" people with disabilities. And she includes many instances of people resisting oppression and fighting for their lives. However, the implications of Nielsen's critiques aren't born out by her focus. The book limits itself to the struggle of people with disabilities to gain acceptance and inclusion into a fundamentally ableist society, in which "difference" is tolerated so long as one contributes "value." I would have liked to have seen more of a focus on movements that recognize the importance of transforming oppressive social structures, like colonialism and industrialization, rather than mere acceptance into colonialist and industrialized societies. Jasbir Puar's "Right to Maim" offers a similar critique of assimilationist aspirations.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Frances

    Great book. Normally, I write pretty extensive reviews of books because I have a terrible memory and enjoy going back and remembering my thoughts on a book. I don't particularly feel the need to write a long review here because this book is going to be a kind of reference for me. Nielsen does a great job of stuffing a complex and long history into an easily readable 189 pages. The book doesn't offer an exhaustive history, but serves its purpose well: to give a foundational history of disability Great book. Normally, I write pretty extensive reviews of books because I have a terrible memory and enjoy going back and remembering my thoughts on a book. I don't particularly feel the need to write a long review here because this book is going to be a kind of reference for me. Nielsen does a great job of stuffing a complex and long history into an easily readable 189 pages. The book doesn't offer an exhaustive history, but serves its purpose well: to give a foundational history of disability rights and to inspire people to learn more about disability, its past and its present. I was also struck by how inclusive it was and how it always had intersectionality in mind, clearly stating that people of different races, genders, orientations, and social classes experienced disability in very different ways. Particularly interesting to me was the analysis of citizenship and disability's relationship--the creation of citizenship required the demarcation of who was allowed to fully participate and who wasn't. Tying democracy to "ability", people with disabilities were exempt from becoming full citizens. I think the only major flaw of this book is that it doesn't touch upon healthcare enough, in my opinion. As the ACA is deliberately destroyed, connecting our past to our present is important.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ame

    A good, VERY general overview of a history of disability in the United States. Nielsen covers 300+ years of history in less than 200 pages. I would love for this to be expanded into a series, since I would gladly read "A Disability History of the United States: 1492-1692" or "A Disability History of the United States: 1950-1990". There's entirely too much content to cover, and much of the material seemed to lean towards physical disabilities. What I found fascinating within the content is once th A good, VERY general overview of a history of disability in the United States. Nielsen covers 300+ years of history in less than 200 pages. I would love for this to be expanded into a series, since I would gladly read "A Disability History of the United States: 1492-1692" or "A Disability History of the United States: 1950-1990". There's entirely too much content to cover, and much of the material seemed to lean towards physical disabilities. What I found fascinating within the content is once the United States gets into the Industrial Revolution and Capitalism, things spiral downwards for anyone with a disability. Your worth is solely based around your ability to earn money, yet nobody is willing to provide accommodations so you can prove your economic worth. Our system is ridiculous and has been ever since America came into being. I wanted to read more about the history of people with cognitive/developmental disabilities. Nielsen touches on colonial times and how these folks were free to live with families and live integrated into society without an issue, but there's not much elaboration. I could chalk this up to a lack of primary sources, but if Nielsen is able to talk about it at all, surely there are more first person accounts? Another shame is that "disability" or "feeblemindedness" or "weakness" in general was literally just about anything just a couple of centuries ago, so I imagine researching for this book was a great big pain in the ass. This is a recommended first read into the world of disability, and serves as an excellent starting point for anyone who plans to delve deeper into the politics of disability (like moi). With the latter aspect in mind, I especially recommend Nielsen's section on the 1960s and 1970s in Berkeley, CA when disability advocates were out in full force to get equal access to housing, employment, and just the ability to enter buildings without issue. Their common sense requests, which were radical just a few decades ago, will make you furious that this kind of assistance couldn't be brought into the foreground sooner as Nielsen notes it's cheaper to provide accommodations than to shove someone into an institution.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Yaaresse

    Nielsen covers a lot of time and ground in about 250 pages, so buckle up for a fast ride. This book is basically a history book, and, as such, the author is not trying to solve the country's injustice issues or do any activism here. The point of this rather slim volume is to provide an overview of the topic. There's no deep dive into any one aspect of disability history. An entire series could be written on this subject and not fully address every group, law, injustice, etc. What Nielsen does is Nielsen covers a lot of time and ground in about 250 pages, so buckle up for a fast ride. This book is basically a history book, and, as such, the author is not trying to solve the country's injustice issues or do any activism here. The point of this rather slim volume is to provide an overview of the topic. There's no deep dive into any one aspect of disability history. An entire series could be written on this subject and not fully address every group, law, injustice, etc. What Nielsen does is examine how the concept/definition of "disability" has changed over time and what forces have driven those changes. Not surprisingly -- spoiler alert -- it has a lot more to do with what Those in Power deem "appropriate for the greater good" than with reality. And, yes, you may as well read "those in power" as meaning "affluent, white, straight males of a certain age and political slant" and translate "appropriate for the greater good" to mean the same. Nielsen starts with the pre-colonial period, during which native cultures seemed not to have a firm concept of a person as disabled and who instead seemed to think in terms of individualized skills and fluid roles within the community for the differently-abled so that everyone could contribute something of value. As she moves to the present, it becomes obvious that a person's "worth" became determined to their ability to do "manly" work and generate an income, their desirability as citizens, and whether they might become "a public burden." It might surprise some people to learn how fluid the concept of disability has been over history and how closely tied that fluidity is to political and economic agendas. Nielsen shows how, at various times in history, "the disabled" have included slaves, specific immigrant groups, Native Americans, LGBT people, and middle to upper class white women. (Don't worry: It has also included poor white women, but they were differently disabled than their delicate, higher class, always lily white sisters.) Overall, a solid introduction to a part of American history seldom covered. The footnotes and bibliography are also quite thorough.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Having already taken a class on United States disability history, I wasn’t able to finish this book because it was too much of a repeat of what I had already learned. It does provide a good synopsis of disability history in the US but can be repetitive at times. The structure is odd in sections because themes are repeated in different timelines. It may have worked better if the author organized the book by themes rather than time in order to avoid repetition. I would recommend this book to someo Having already taken a class on United States disability history, I wasn’t able to finish this book because it was too much of a repeat of what I had already learned. It does provide a good synopsis of disability history in the US but can be repetitive at times. The structure is odd in sections because themes are repeated in different timelines. It may have worked better if the author organized the book by themes rather than time in order to avoid repetition. I would recommend this book to someone as an introduction to US disability theory and history.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This book would have been so much more readable if it had been arranged topically rather than by decade. I felt like I was reading the same stuff over and over. I also recognize that physical disabilities are the most visible but I would have liked to have read more about intellectual and developmental disabilities or care for the multiply disabled.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Katie Goldey

    Great read - lots of really interesting info and history on disability rights movement, as well as the intersection with the labor movement and other civil rights movements. Wish it included a bit more about intellectual / cognitive disability (there is some). It mostly focuses on physical disability and deafness. However, overall, this is a really great, informative and quick read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    A solid, brief introduction to US disability history that successfully argues disability to be overdue in claiming its rightful place as a framework for historical analysis alongside race, gender, and class.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Kim Nielsen ditches disability's historiographical tradition of being extracted, and instead reinvents disability as a lens, much like race and gender. While the book is short, and not particularly deep, it is a start to understanding the ways in which the people of America interacted and responded to whatever they took disability to be, which is a step in the right direction. Kim Nielsen ditches disability's historiographical tradition of being extracted, and instead reinvents disability as a lens, much like race and gender. While the book is short, and not particularly deep, it is a start to understanding the ways in which the people of America interacted and responded to whatever they took disability to be, which is a step in the right direction.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    There's some great information here, but this easily could have been an entire series--so many issues and eras are touched on only for a page or two. Also--this book covers as far as the ADA in 1990 but doesn't mention the Capitol Crawl protest! There's some great information here, but this easily could have been an entire series--so many issues and eras are touched on only for a page or two. Also--this book covers as far as the ADA in 1990 but doesn't mention the Capitol Crawl protest!

  15. 4 out of 5

    David H.

    This is a fantastic general overview of disability history, from the way disability was even defined (and changed over time) to how families and people and governments have handled the disabled in their midst (varying widely between compassion and disgust). The only flaw with this book is that it ends before I want it to, and that it's also not three times as long. The timeline is just too big for a book like this. I know from reading deaf-specific histories just how much one can dig into this-- This is a fantastic general overview of disability history, from the way disability was even defined (and changed over time) to how families and people and governments have handled the disabled in their midst (varying widely between compassion and disgust). The only flaw with this book is that it ends before I want it to, and that it's also not three times as long. The timeline is just too big for a book like this. I know from reading deaf-specific histories just how much one can dig into this--the Deaf President Now movement for example, barely gets anything more than a paragraph. I also don't think Nielsen even mentioned the Capitol Crawl. One of the things I especially enjoyed about this was the historical demonstration of the intersectionality of disability, and just how widely people used their interpretations of science to back up their prejudices (denying disabled immigrants who literally had jobs waiting for them from entering the country at Ellis Island because "they're clearly unemployable" was rage-inducing). I also feel really damned grateful and lucky about how much I've personally benefited from the disability rights activists over the long century--my education and my employment history is explicitly due to their efforts. I'm definitely interested in reading more histories on this subject.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    Kindle Daily Deal | I got this four years ago, when it was a $0.99 deal, and then was never in the mood for it, and not reading it was a mistake. | This was very interesting, covered a broad period (15th century to about 1990), but still had enough detailed stories to feel personalized. The author did a good job of recognizing the way race, class, and gender impacted disability, or even defined disability, at various points in history, and discussed intersectionality not just among those groups Kindle Daily Deal | I got this four years ago, when it was a $0.99 deal, and then was never in the mood for it, and not reading it was a mistake. | This was very interesting, covered a broad period (15th century to about 1990), but still had enough detailed stories to feel personalized. The author did a good job of recognizing the way race, class, and gender impacted disability, or even defined disability, at various points in history, and discussed intersectionality not just among those groups but within disability activism itself. While there were some individuals that really caught my attention and led to further research on my part, this is an overview more than anything. Hopefully readers will use it as a springboard for looking deeper, enough information is provided to make that very easy to do.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Sue

    Don’t misread my 3 stars— this book is important and critical reading. I’d recommend this book based solely on how well the author incorporated intersectionality into disability history (race, sex/gender, class all affected how a person’s disability was perceived). Still, it was a surface level introduction (which, I know, is the point of the book) and wished it went on a little longer. Also, it abruptly ended on the passage of the 1990 passage of the ADA. This book was written in 2012 and I wis Don’t misread my 3 stars— this book is important and critical reading. I’d recommend this book based solely on how well the author incorporated intersectionality into disability history (race, sex/gender, class all affected how a person’s disability was perceived). Still, it was a surface level introduction (which, I know, is the point of the book) and wished it went on a little longer. Also, it abruptly ended on the passage of the 1990 passage of the ADA. This book was written in 2012 and I wish the author included more contemporary information on the policy and impact of such an important law. Overall, give it a read if you’d like a cursory introduction to the topic, but don’t expect anything in too much depth.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kaylee Bolton

    Though I believe Nielsen has a good background in the topic, it just seemed like a lot of the claims in this book were reaching. For example, in the first chapter, there was example after example of indigenous tribes “finding a place for disabled people”, without thorough detail. In addition, this book would have been much more successful in educating the reader if it were more specific. I began the book assuming, incorrectly, that it would cover a history of intellectual disabilities in the U.S Though I believe Nielsen has a good background in the topic, it just seemed like a lot of the claims in this book were reaching. For example, in the first chapter, there was example after example of indigenous tribes “finding a place for disabled people”, without thorough detail. In addition, this book would have been much more successful in educating the reader if it were more specific. I began the book assuming, incorrectly, that it would cover a history of intellectual disabilities in the U.S., but found instead instance after instance of one-armed soldiers or civilians finding jobs that worked with their handicap. Overall, I was slightly disappointed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dusty Roether

    As a deaf and blind person, I recently realized how little I actually knew about the history of disability in the United States, and to no surprise, this book featured prominently in my searches. I definitely learned a lot here despite the breadth of time covered in the span of just 200 pages. While I certainly don't feel like I've learned all there is to know--I will move on from this to delve deeper with other books--I feel like this survey has given me a good foundational understanding of whe As a deaf and blind person, I recently realized how little I actually knew about the history of disability in the United States, and to no surprise, this book featured prominently in my searches. I definitely learned a lot here despite the breadth of time covered in the span of just 200 pages. While I certainly don't feel like I've learned all there is to know--I will move on from this to delve deeper with other books--I feel like this survey has given me a good foundational understanding of where the concept of disability has been and what the disability rights movement has accomplished since its birth.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    I read most of this for a class, then figured I might as well finish it. It was an okay introductory disability history, but it often elided over the historical and thematic nuances of what disability means and how individuals interact with wider notions of disability community. It often felt too universalizing, using ultra-localized examples to stand in for national trends without really exploring how some disabled individuals didn't fit into or actively resisted those trends. And it definitely I read most of this for a class, then figured I might as well finish it. It was an okay introductory disability history, but it often elided over the historical and thematic nuances of what disability means and how individuals interact with wider notions of disability community. It often felt too universalizing, using ultra-localized examples to stand in for national trends without really exploring how some disabled individuals didn't fit into or actively resisted those trends. And it definitely favored discussing some disabilities over others (not even a mention of the psychiatric survivors' movement, as one basic example).

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kyra

    This was an interesting, well-written primer of disability history. The best parts of the book explore ableism as a lens through which sexism and racism were reinforced (e.g. labeling slaves as disabled, or “physically and mentally inferior,” provided a rationale for their exploitation). It also made good points about industrialization’s influence on the construction of disability. However, due to its brevity, the book glosses over quite a bit, and some of the examples Nielsen uses seem cherry-p This was an interesting, well-written primer of disability history. The best parts of the book explore ableism as a lens through which sexism and racism were reinforced (e.g. labeling slaves as disabled, or “physically and mentally inferior,” provided a rationale for their exploitation). It also made good points about industrialization’s influence on the construction of disability. However, due to its brevity, the book glosses over quite a bit, and some of the examples Nielsen uses seem cherry-picked to fit her narrative.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Mills

    This is a solid introductory read for those seeking to learn more about the history of sickness and disability in the United States. Nielsen takes care to expand the narrative to include the experiences of Native Americans, enslaved Africans, African Americans, Asian immigrants, and Asian Americans. The book is about 185 pages of content and it's a lot to fit in, so most sections stay at a cursory level. Still, Nielsen takes the time to present short vignettes in each section about the lived exp This is a solid introductory read for those seeking to learn more about the history of sickness and disability in the United States. Nielsen takes care to expand the narrative to include the experiences of Native Americans, enslaved Africans, African Americans, Asian immigrants, and Asian Americans. The book is about 185 pages of content and it's a lot to fit in, so most sections stay at a cursory level. Still, Nielsen takes the time to present short vignettes in each section about the lived experiences of individuals. Certainly worth a read to familiarize one's self with the timeline.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kass James

    Starting with Pre-Western imperialism and finishing with 1990's ADA legislation, this book gives a good overview of the evolution of disability rights and social status within the United States. While I do feel like the more recent legal and social changes could have been expanded into something more useful, the book is a good summary of rights and advocacy over the past 600 years. I would consider this to be primary reading material for any introduction into disability rights in America. Starting with Pre-Western imperialism and finishing with 1990's ADA legislation, this book gives a good overview of the evolution of disability rights and social status within the United States. While I do feel like the more recent legal and social changes could have been expanded into something more useful, the book is a good summary of rights and advocacy over the past 600 years. I would consider this to be primary reading material for any introduction into disability rights in America.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Read for Book Riot Read Harder Challenge - alternate history. A little dry at the beginning but really good as it goes and does a good job of being intersectional, highlighting experience of indigenous communities and perspectives on disability and talking about the movements to challenge ableism. I wish it went more into what happened in the 70s-90s, especially the work that spurred the passage of the ADA. But definitely an important read!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tory Cross

    I'm really bummed because I'm disabled and was really looking forward to reading this but it is. Not good. I gave up after the first chapter - specifically because the author talks about the impact on Indigenous people during the European conquest of disease and how that influenced disability, but did not even mention the genocide perpetuated by the European colonists and how much that contributed to death and disability for Indigenous people. DNFd. I'm really bummed because I'm disabled and was really looking forward to reading this but it is. Not good. I gave up after the first chapter - specifically because the author talks about the impact on Indigenous people during the European conquest of disease and how that influenced disability, but did not even mention the genocide perpetuated by the European colonists and how much that contributed to death and disability for Indigenous people. DNFd.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christina Zable

    Four stars for being good, scholarly historical work; the fifth star for being interesting, thought-provoking material that broadened my mind and worldview. Be aware that some of the material in here is kind of harsh (eugenics, forced sterilization, murder and abuse of enslaved people, decimation of the Native population).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chester Blackwell

    This is one of those books that makes you cry because it inspires you. As a disabled person, this book reminds me of all the people who fought and died for my rights, knowing that they themselves would never get those rights. One turn off is that the author is abled, but generally it's a very good brief history and I definitely recommend it. This is one of those books that makes you cry because it inspires you. As a disabled person, this book reminds me of all the people who fought and died for my rights, knowing that they themselves would never get those rights. One turn off is that the author is abled, but generally it's a very good brief history and I definitely recommend it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    This book uses select incidents from our nation's history to illustrate the changing attitudes toward disability and the fight for disability rights. Nielsen's approach is intersectional, constantly reminding us how the treatment of people with disabilities is entwined with race, gender, sexuality, wealth, and class. It's a great primer on disability history in the U.S. This book uses select incidents from our nation's history to illustrate the changing attitudes toward disability and the fight for disability rights. Nielsen's approach is intersectional, constantly reminding us how the treatment of people with disabilities is entwined with race, gender, sexuality, wealth, and class. It's a great primer on disability history in the U.S.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Helen L Goodman

    Important Read This book provided a lot of information and context around the history of disability in America. The disabled, as a group, often get left out of discussions on civil rights so having this history was very enlightening and yet also painful to read about the cruelty that some have had to endure.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    The writing is a bit academic when I expected a lot more passion about the history of disability. One thing that hit me with shocking clarity was that historically, the fight included a demand for the right to work and be treated like anyone else. It is ironic given that automation and outsourcing and globalization are removing jobs from our country at such a clip the future of the availability of work is in question leading to a strong argument for universal basic income. I am disabled so I can The writing is a bit academic when I expected a lot more passion about the history of disability. One thing that hit me with shocking clarity was that historically, the fight included a demand for the right to work and be treated like anyone else. It is ironic given that automation and outsourcing and globalization are removing jobs from our country at such a clip the future of the availability of work is in question leading to a strong argument for universal basic income. I am disabled so I can speak from personal experience. I despaired when I became unable to work at jobs I really loved. In our country we are practically born rugged individualists and we are what we do. I can understand, particularly with no safety net supports for the disabled, why the fight to be allowed to work was critical. Work or die is the slogan that should be on our currency. However, without such a Puritan ethos in our very genetics practically, the disabled could have chosen to go another way: right to minimum support from the government. It is impossible to envision this ever having come up for discussion based on what I read in this book. However, if we could tilt our social beliefs away from the MORALITY of wage work, which I do not believe is valid, it is simply slavery by another method or two: mandatory wage labor and/or debt peonage. I was aghast at a small legislative committee on disability recently that was so stuck in unquestioning belief of the morality of work that an otherwise sensible Representative queried PAYING BUSINESSES $10,000 A YEAR as an incentive to hire disabled people (mainly contextualized to refer to Down's Syndrome). I said NO NO NO. Her response, apart from being taken aback, was something like "but I'm sure they would enjoy a little pocket money." So I said then give the disabled person the $10,000 a year and let them live life instead of work to live! Why just pour pure profit into the hands of profitable corporations instead of a person? Because, as in bankruptcy, people who have unexpected setbacks or experience events out of there control are always assessed as "deserving poor" or the moral "hazard" that the immoral undeserving poor are presumed to be. While the law now claims corporations are people, they have no soul and can be as rapacious as they can get away with and when their schemes crash, the human who broke the company gets a few hundred million and they company gets a true fresh start. Since the bankruptcy bill of 2005, this is even more true. Banksters keep their personal wealth and the workers, poorly paid in the first place lose their livelihood. So when the disabled are socialized to a belief that only wage work makes you a maker and not a taker, that is, self worth is decided purely by economics, then to be disabled and unable to work perpetuates the cruelty of capitalism that is not a social system but only economic. Of course disabled people want to be able to work in this situation. The complaint of employers, with some validity, is when the disabled person ACTUALLY CANNOT do any job without constant supervision and extra time reviewing the work they have done and then paying a capable person to do it right. This is why the government believes they should pay employers for hiring less than fully capable people. There are many ways to enable participation in the community other than wage labor. There are volunteer opportunities and maybe other community resources could be used with a $10k per user funding to provide a place for people to do art, writing, learn new things, meet people and make friends. Read books together, play cards, see movies, listen to music, and so on. I understand and respect the people who want wage work because that is the one and only thing that the wealthy (who do no wage work) want from the rest of us and have spent thousands of years indoctrinating us by religion and public policy that you are a taker, a parasite, a loser if you cannot earn a wage - not even a living wage but maybe a "pocket change" wage because if you earn one dollar more than the means test allows, then you risk any government benefits. Because the absolute most immoral thing to do in a capitalist society is to receive benefits like Medicaid while you earn a poverty level amount of pocket change. The other thing I learned reading this book was that even if the disabled are given a job, their coworkers might not appreciate working with someone that is constrained by reality to do less for what may be the same minimum wage. And they would not be wrong to feel this way. They may and apparently often do physically and emotionally abuse their disabled coworkers even by doing simple pranks like directly someone to move a rack of merchandise and then laugh and say oops I was wrong move it back again. This is a good background book, but short on solutions. At meeting with the legislators my recommendation was basic income. There is no morality in wage work. There is no morality in wage work until you die. There is no more inherent worth to an able-bodied person than a person with disabilities. People are more than wage slaves. It is wrong to make disabled people feel like they do not deserve to live if they can't earn a wage.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.