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Marie Stopes and the sexual revolution

Medical History
Cambridge University Press
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  • Book Reviews
  • Medicine
  • Political Science


Book Reviews Nancy Stepan persuasively demonstrates that the scientific and social characteristics of Latin America meant that eugenics encompassed more than the racist and conservative social agenda that defined the movement elsewhere. "The Hour of Eugenics" is an excellent addition to the literature on eugenics and the history of science in Latin America. Anne-Emanuelle Bim, The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health PAULINE M. H. MAZUMDAR, Eugenics, human genetics and human failings: The Eugenics Society, its sources and its critics in Britain, London and New York, Routledge, 1992, pp. x, 373, illus., £40.00 (0-415-04424-3). Several studies have recently come out on the British eugenics movement, and this is one of the best. Displaying an impressive mastery of a range of different source materials, Pauline Mazumdar explains the statistical advances involved in human genetics by relating them to the careers and personalities of some of their main protagonists and also to the ideological and personal struggles taking place within the contemporary Eugenics Society. For human genetics, she shows, was inextricably bound up in its early years with the eugenics movement, which in turn had been shaped by the preconceptions of an earlier tradition of Victorian social reform, in which the focus of concern had been the existence of a hereditary class of paupers. Indeed, this "eugenics problematic", we are told, continued to dominate the field until it finally fell victim to the changes of social and political attitudes brought about by the Second World War-but not before its intellectual credibility had been undermined during the course of the 1930s by the work of a younger generation of scientists (among them, Lancelot Hogben, J. B. S. Haldane and Lionel Penrose), who found themselves sharply at odds with the class arrogance and political conservatism of their predecessors. The case is so persuasively argued that it is easy to overlook the fact that the Eugenics Education Soci

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