Throughout history, people have sought to improve themselves – and society – by eliminating disease, or enhancing desirable qualities in their children. Others have imposed control over populations with rules about who can marry, who can procreate and who can live. For just over a century, we have referred to this age-old crafting by biological design with a word which became poisonous: eugenics. The ideas underlying eugenics are not merely historical. We live in a time where forced sterilisation of women is current – including in immigration detention centres in the USA – and where sex-selective abortion is endemic in the most populous countries on Earth. In 2020, new techniques in genetics and gene editing put discussions about improving the ‘quality’ of the population, by selecting embryos for intelligence, at the centre of the British government. FASTER, STRONGER, SMARTER is an urgently needed discussion exploring the science, history and future of eugenics, and the practice of population control by selective procreation.
Jenny Lord, Publisher of Weidenfeld & Nicolson, acquired World rights, excluding North America, in FASTER, STRONGER, SMARTER: The Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics by Adam Rutherford from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit.
Jenny Lord says: ‘Until recently, it was widely assumed that eugenics is either a thing of the past or a dystopian science fiction that we don’t need to worry about. But it has been impossible to miss the fact that it has swerved right back into view and is increasingly – and alarmingly – part of contemporary political discourse. There is no one better placed to give us a history and science lesson on this fascinating, terrifying subject than Adam Rutherford’
Adam Rutherford says: ‘Race, immigration, disease and the phantom threat of population replacement are forcefully again in the public discourse, and all relate to the historical or contemporary practice of eugenics. These are troubling ideas, both scientifically and historically, but with the right tools, we can dissect and understand them, so as not to repeat the errors of the past. I’ve been teaching about eugenics for 20 years, and now it’s time to set them down in a book.’
Dr Adam Rutherford is a scientist, writer and broadcaster. He has written and presented award-winning series and programmes for the BBC, including Radio 4’s INSIDE SCIENCE and THE CURIOUS CASES OF RUTHERFORD & FRY with Dr Hannah Fry. He is the author CREATION, shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Prize, A BRIEF HISTORY OF EVERYONE WHO EVER LIVED, THE BOOK OF HUMANS and the Sunday Times bestselling HOW TO ARGUE WITH A RACIST which is currently Waterstones Non-fiction Book of the Month.
FASTER, STRONGER, SMARTER: The Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in hardback, audio and ebook in February 2022.
Photo Credit: @StefanJakubowski