Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781474622394

Price: £9.99

ON SALE: 2nd February 2023

Genre: Mathematics & Science

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How did an obscure academic idea pave the way to the Holocaust within just fifty years?
Why does eugenics still loom large in the 21st century, despite its genocidal past?
Did eugenics work? Could it work? Or was it always a pseudoscientific fantasy?

Throughout history, people have sought to reduce suffering, eliminate disease and enhance desirable qualities in their children. In the Victorian era eugenics, a full-blooded attempt to impose control over unruly biology, began to grow among the powerful and quickly spread to dozens of countries around the world. But these ideas are not merely historical: today, with new gene editing techniques, conversations are happening about tinkering with the DNA of our unborn children to make them smarter, fitter, stronger. Deeply steeped in contemporary genetics, CONTROL offers a vital account of one of the defining – and most destructive – ideas of the twentieth century.


Rutherford presents a profoundly sensible take on the complexities of history . . . an important book
Shaoni Bhattacharya, MAIL ON SUNDAY
An insightful and compelling look into the story of eugenics, showing how its legacies are still prevalent in language and literature today. It's a hard one to put down . . . Rutherford makes it easy to digest
Rutherford takes us on a journey that encompasses both the history of eugenics and its current-day practice . . . an insightful and compelling study
Roger Cox, i NEWSPAPER
CONTROL is persuasive, sensible and ultimately reassuring, but it is not complacent . . . To know history is "to inoculate ourselves against its being repeated", Rutherford argues. From that perspective, this book is a shot worth having
Katy Guest, GUARDIAN, Book of the Day
Fizzy and pugnacious . . . brilliant . . . A fierce and funny broadside against eugenics and its admirers
Breathtakingly brilliant and dark, a popular science book that doesn't talk down to you.
Alex Preston in the i paper
Genetics has attracted brilliant, visionary scientists. It has attracted racists and charlatans. CONTROL skilfully weaves together these two strands of the discipline's history
Few are as well-qualified to perform the necessary demolition [of eugenics] as Adam Rutherford
Dominic Lawson, DAILY MAIL, Book of the Week
A remarkable combination of intelligence, knowledge, insight and admirable political passion, on a serious moral problem in contemporary society
Rutherford's swift, well-written account of these fascinating scientific and moral issues is well worth a read
Emma Duncan, THE TIMES, Book of the Week
An important book . . . It might be true, as Rutherford claims, that "eugenics is a busted flush, a pseudoscience that cannot deliver on its promise", but this book is a reminder of why we must remain vigilant
Tina Beattie, THE TABLET
Discussions around the idea of population control are increasingly resurfacing. CONTROL's strength is that it provides not only much-needed guidance for these conversations by reminding us of the horrors of the past, but also uses scientific evidence to dismantle the viability of these ideas
Layal Liverpool, NEW SCIENTIST
A clear-sighted look at the past and present dangers of eugenics. Rutherford tells [the story] with great concision and with clarity, both scientific and moral. [He] condenses tricky concepts into smart and often witty prose, combining erudition with humility . . . honest, informed and humane
Insightful and compelling
Sharron Logan, PRESS ASSOCIATION review syndicated across regional press
[Rutherford's] scientific demolition of the eugenic project is brilliantly illuminating and compelling. His book will be indispensable for anyone who wants to assess the wild claims and counter-claims surrounding new genetic technologies
Weighty and serious but accessible and perfectly pitched. The scholarship is astounding
Rutherford sharply undermines the old trope that science is detached from politics, showing that to stand on the shoulders of giants is no barrier to recognising their flaws and fetishes. A vital warning from both history and science of the quiet horrors that can ensue if society becomes overconfident in its ability to 'improve' the population. Smart and surprisingly entertaining
There are many involving arguments, historical surprises, detailed case studies and amiable jokes in this book, and you'll finish it with renewed respect for, and interest in, what real scientists do
From Victorian polymaths to Nazi breeding programmes, Rutherford traces the history of eugenics with punch and brio - but his book really shines when it takes aim at contemporary pseudoscience.
A short, sharp, illuminating overview of the science, politics, uses and abuses of human gene editing
Tim Adams, OBSERVER, Book of the Week