Control is a book about eugenics, what geneticist Adam Rutherford calls "a defining idea of the twentieth century." Inspired by Darwin's ideas about evolution, eugenics arose in Victorian England as a theory for improving the British population, and quickly spread to America, where it was embraced by presidents, funded by Gilded Age monopolists, and enshrined into racist American laws that became the ideological cornerstone of the Third Reich.
Sharp and timely study ... Rutherford traces a clear line from these racist theories – widely acted upon in US prewar sterilisation programmes – to the genocidal atrocities of nazism ... Rutherford makes the urgent case that we remain very far from any such competence and we should beware any politician that raises the idea ... Short, illuminating book.
A short book about a big subject ... It takes patience to trace the complicated web linking these ideas, and Rutherford does so with much-needed nuance and an absence of alarmism ... It’s frustrating that he tiptoes around some of the more difficult questions ... Control is persuasive, sensible and ultimately reassuring, but it is not complacent ... This book is a shot worth having.
Fizzy and pugnacious little book ... Rutherford’s account of this history is superbly horrific ... Where this book really shines, though, is in its fierce (and often very funny) demonstration of how this kind of thing is for the moment just a pipe dream, philosophical or otherwise ... The last third of the book is a brilliant primer.