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Imbeciles: the Supreme Court, American eugenics, and the sterilization of Carrie Buck

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One of America's great miscarriages of justice, the Supreme Court's infamous 1927 Buck v. Bell ruling made government sterilization of "undesirable" citizens the law of the land   New York Times bestselling author Adam Cohen tells the story in Imbeciles of one of the darkest moments in the American legal tradition: the Supreme Court's decision to champion eugenic sterilization for the greater good of the country. In 1927, when the nation was caught up in eugenic fervor, the justices allowed Virginia to sterilize Carrie Buck, a perfectly normal young woman, for being an "imbecile." It is a story with many villains, from the superintendent of the Dickensian Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded who chose Carrie for sterilization to the former Missouri agriculture professor and Nazi sympathizer who was the nation's leading advocate for eugenic sterilization.  But the most troubling actors of all were the eight Supreme Court justices who were in the majority - including William Howard Taft, the former president; Louis Brandeis, the legendary progressive; and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., America's most esteemed justice, who wrote the decision urging the nation to embark on a program of mass eugenic sterilization. Exposing this tremendous injustice--which led to the sterilization of 70,000 Americans-- Imbeciles overturns cherished myths and reappraises heroic figures in its relentless pursuit of the truth. With the precision of a legal brief and the passion of a front-page exposé, Cohen's Imbeciles is an unquestionable triumph of American legal and social history, an ardent accusation against these acclaimed men and our own optimistic faith in progress.
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Level 10.2, 22 Points
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Grouped Work ID 25329eb1-f4a1-791d-24f6-a82561f9bc03
Full title imbeciles the supreme court american eugenics and the sterilization of carrie buck
Author cohen adam
Grouping Category book
Last Update 2018-05-26 23:36:46PM
Last Indexed 2018-05-27 00:31:02AM

Solr Details

accelerated_reader_interest_level UG
accelerated_reader_point_value 22
accelerated_reader_reading_level 10.2
author Adam Cohen
author_display Cohen, Adam
available_at_catalog Edmondson Pike, Edmondson Pike Kids, Green Hills, Green Hills Kids, Main Kids, Main Library, Richland Park
collection_catalog Non-Fiction
detailed_location_catalog Edmondson Pike - Adult Non-Fiction, Green Hills - Adult Non-Fiction, Main Library - Adult Non-Fiction, Richland Park - Adult Non-Fiction
display_description ln 1927, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling so disturbing, ignorant, and cruel that it stands as one of the great injustices in American history. Here, bestselling author Adam Cohen exposes the court's decision to allow the sterilization of a young woman it wrongly thought to be "feebleminded" and to champion the mass eugenic sterilization of undesirables for the greater good of the country. The 8-1 ruling was signed by some of the most revered figures in American law--including Chief Justice William Howard Taft, and Louis Brandeis, a progressive icon. Oliver Wendell Holmes, considered by many the greatest Supreme Court justice in history, wrote the majority opinion, including the court's famous declaration "'Three generations of imbeciles are enough." Imbeciles is the shocking story of Buck v. Bell, a legal case that challenges our faith in American justice. This gripping courtroom drama pits a helpless young woman against powerful scientists, lawyers, and judges who believed that eugenic measures were necessary to save the nation from being "swamped with incompetence." At the center was Carrie Buck, born into a poor family in Charlottesville, Virginia, and taken in by a foster family, until she became pregnant out of wedlock. She was then declared "feebleminded" and shipped off to the Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded. Buck v. Bell unfolded against the backdrop of a nation in the thrall of eugenics, which many Americans thought would uplift the human race. Congress embraced this fervor, enacting the first laws designed to prevent immigration by Italians, Jews, and other groups thought to be genetically inferior. Cohen shows how Buck arrived at the Colony at just the wrong time, when influential scientists and politicians were looking for a "test case." A cabal of powerful men lined up against her, and no one stood up for her--not even her lawyer, who, it is now clear, was in collusion with those who wanted her sterilized. In the end, Buck's case was heard by the Supreme Court, the institution established to ensure that justice would prevail. The court could have seen through the false claim that Buck was a threat to the gene pool, or it could have found that forced sterilization was a violation of her rights. Instead, Holmes, a scion of several prominent Boston Brahmin families, raised to believe in the superiority of his own bloodlines, wrote a vicious, haunting decision upholding Buck's sterilization and imploring the nation to sterilize many more. Before the madness ended, some sixty to seventy thousand Americans were sterilized. Cohen overturns cherished myths and demolishes lauded figures in relentless pursuit of the truth. With intellectual force and passion, Imbeciles is an ardent indictment of our champions of justice and our optimistic faith in progress.--Adapted from dust jacket.
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isbn 9780399565953, 9781101980835, 9781594204180
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lexile_score 1270
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owning_library_catalog Nashville Public Library
owning_location_catalog Edmondson Pike, Edmondson Pike Kids, Green Hills, Green Hills Kids, Main Kids, Main Library, Richland Park
primary_isbn 9781594204180
publishDate 2016
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subject_facet Buck, Carrie, -- 1906-1983 -- Trials, litigation, etc, Eugenics -- Law and legislation -- United States, Involuntary sterilization -- Law and legislation -- United States, Involuntary sterilization -- Law and legislation -- Virginia
title_display Imbeciles : the Supreme Court, American eugenics, and the sterilization of Carrie Buck
title_full Imbeciles : the Supreme Court, American eugenics, and the sterilization of Carrie Buck / Adam Cohen, Imbeciles The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck
title_short Imbeciles :
title_sub the Supreme Court, American eugenics, and the sterilization of Carrie Buck
topic_facet Buck, Carrie, Eugenics, History, Involuntary sterilization, Law, Law and legislation, Nonfiction, Trials, litigation, etc