Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck

Book Imbeciles The Supreme Court American Eugenics and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck A large thank you goes out to my friend Brenda who has agreed to jointly read and review this book in hope

Book Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck A large thank you goes out to my friend, Brenda, who has agreed to jointly read and review this book, in hopes that we might stir up some discussion on the matters addressed. Her review can be found at: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Cohen uses this book as a much-needed soap box to highlight a case that made its way to the US Supreme Court, Buck v. Bell, and whose analysis was so jaded that it has found its way on a list of the Court's worst decisions of all time. Not only were some of the greatest minds of time involved in the ruling, Louis Brandeis, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and William Taft, but the Court stood behind Holmes' written decision almost unanimously. However, Cohen chooses not only to focus on the Supreme Court ruling, which explored the eugenic sterilisation movement in America (as well as sanctioning the Virginia law as constitutional), but the journey the law took from its inception in the legislature and selection of a young Carrie Buck to be the test subject. Carrie Buck was a young woman, eighteen by the time the case made its way to the US Supreme Court, who was adopted as a child. She attended school for a few years before she was pulled out to work, as determined by her adoptive parents. At the age of seventeen, she fell pregnant and was committed to an institution for epileptics and the feebleminded, seemingly because she possessed loose morals and was deemed a woman whose brain was oversexed. At the time, the early 1920s, this was entirely appropriate and Carrie was forced to abide by the stringent rules set upon her by the State of Virginia. Around this time, as the eugenics movement in the United States was heating up, Virginia sought to pass a law to bring about eugenic sterilisation, which would not only ensure that the state's residents were of the highest calibre, but also ensure those who were less than adequate could not reproduce and sully the gene pool [their views, not mine]. While other states were having similar laws overturned by the courts as unconstitutional, Virginia sought to test their legislative initiative all the way to the Supreme Court, using Carrie Buck and her situation as the ideal set of facts. From there, it was a process stacked against Buck, offering her no hope of personal victory. Doctors who manipulated facts and forced her to undergo mental testing for which she was not adequately prepared, an assigned lawyer who sought to defend her by offering flimsy arguments that would not pass muster in any court of law, as well as a set of legal and medical minds buoyed by a movement that tried to press for the purest of the race to continue, leaving those of a lesser ability to be subjugated to the role of subservient. By the time the case made its way to the nine justices of the US Supreme Court, the legal circus was in full swing and Buck had no chance. Once Justice Holmes got his hands on the right to pen a decision, he chose not even to explore the validity of the arguments made and simply rubber stamped the law, adding one of the most perverse comments ever attributed to a decision of the US Supreme Court: "three generations of imbeciles are enough!" Cohen dissects that inane comment throughout the book and shows how Buck was truly a whipping boy for the movement and stood no chance at having her rights upheld, personal and/or constitutional.While the story of Buck would be enough to pull on the heartstrings of any warm-blooded reader, Cohen goes further, examining the backstories of the key actors, as well as the eugenics movement in America. The medical and legal communities filled their professional journals with articles on the subject, coming out on either side, which led to a mainstream propaganda attack, which propped up the idea of eugenics in books, pamphlets, and even a Hollywood movie, which sought to explore what letting a feebleminded baby grow up might yield (a mentally deficient killer, of course [which I say, tongue in cheek]). This eugenics movement was so well-established that the likes of Dr. Josef Mengele was surely salivating at the chance to implement it in Germany. Cohen does mention that some of the early eugenic ideas of the Nazis are attributed directly to the American movement, as lauded in German medical and propaganda materials in the early 1920s. Deplorable, perhaps, but also poignant as the world tosses out how atrocious the Nazis were in their Megele-ian experiments. We need only look to the Land of the Free to see how enslaved segments of its population were at the time. Worry not, when sober thinking returned, America scrapped its eugenics movement, seeking to sweep it under the rug and point to Germany's atrocities, as if the left hand's antics would never be remembered. Cohen makes it much harder to reach for that first stone now, though what is even more astonishing is that this case, this entire narrative, is not better known. America (read: anyone with a general knowledge of human and civil rights) is not able to toss out Buck v. Bell as a horrendous legal precedent, as we do Dred Scott, for reasons that baffle Cohen, as this was a significant case with a fiery line penned by Justice Holmes. Alas, the annals of poorly supported decisions made by the US Supreme Court must have missed this, their golden child example. It is that shameful sleight of hand that is perhaps worst of all!Cohen does a masterful job at presenting this book. It is more than simply Carrie Buck and how she was forced into being sterilised, thereby forcing her not to have any children after her first. It is also more than a simple analysis of the criteria surrounding feeblemindedness in America, or the push for eugenics, which would rid the country of the 'lesser folk from procreating'. It is even about more than forced sterilisation, which is a horrid subject in and of itself. Cohen explores all the pieces of the movement, its actors, and detractors, as well as using the Buck narrative to explore how America failed its citizenry and a US Supreme Court disregarded its fundamental law, the Constitution, to protect those who needed it the most. With significant research, Cohen hones in on many of those who played a role, some of whom will surprise the attentive reader. His narrative is crisp and propels the story forward, as abysmal as the content might be. It also pulls no punches in drawing significant connections between the American eugenics movement and the influence it played on Nazi Germany's decision to adopt similar ideals. The blood is right there on the hands of the influential and the reader cannot deny its existence. No matter how the reader feels about eugenics and reproductive rights, the book opens eyes, leaves mouths agape, and paves the way for many intellectual or gut arguments. I can only hope readers will engage in this, both on public forums like GoodReads, and in their own way. This is not a topic to read about, nod, and move along. It is a discussion to be had. Are you willing to join in?Kudos, Mr. Cohen for this spectacular piece. The title is so open-ended, I am left to wonder if you reference Holmes' comment or the list of those who failed Buck throughout the ordeal.Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/. Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck go inside Kindle 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 sterilizatiOne 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 expos , 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.From the Hardcover edition.. Adam Cohen Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck book, this is one of the most wanted Adam Cohen author readers around the world. . Good Books Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck In the 1920's, the nation was in the midst of a panic over feeblemindedness. People were being sent away in record numbers - institutionalize -in state hospitals and special schools for the "feebleminded". The governor of Virginia made a public apology 75 years later (The 75th anniversary of United States Supreme Court's ruling in Buck v Bell. Adam Cohen tells the story of Carrie Buck. She was a victim of the eugenics movement. The Government should never have been involved. Adam tells complete story about Carrie from when she was first living in a foster care home - and later became pregnant. She was wrongly labeled ..."feebleminded" ..and "Epileptic". ( she was neither). Plus, nobody knew at the time that she had been raped.Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. - ( consider a great mind in American History), was one of the primary person who wrote the 1927 ruling, "Three generations of imbeciles are enough". ( BRUTAL)This was a Harvard-educated man - from a distinguished family. Holmes acted so superior toward Carrie Buck who was poorly educated and a working class mother. Holmes opinion was respected ..... It was an 8 to 1 majority to uphold the Virginia's sterilization law. "The nation must sterilize those who sap the strength of the State", Holmes insisted, "to prevent our being swamped with incompetence." "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who aremanifestly unfit from continuing their kind". This story is sad. Adam writes it in a way that it almost reads like a fiction story ( I wish it were) ... Point it: it's engaging...it's fascinating ...he makes it very personal by focusing primarily Carrie Buck...Yet..,we are aware of the story being much bigger. 70, 000 woman - in OUR COUNTRY less than 100 years ago -- were forced into sterilization ( lied to- choices made for them - judged harshly) After having read the Historical Fiction book, "Necessary Lies", by Diane Chamberlain ...( a book that 'knocked-my-socks' off and opened my eyes to the Eugenics Laws), ....as soon as I learned about this book, I knew I HAD TO READ IT!!!Note: I had a fear ... That this book might be too dry, and a little to academic...But it's NOT AT ALL.... It's very readable. It's an important book....and thankful Adam wrote this book with nothing less than intimacy and compassion. The black and white shiny photos included in the physical book of Carrie --and other family members are beautiful. Thank You to Penguin Press, Netgalley, and Adam Press

About Author

  1. Adam Cohen Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck book, this is one of the most wanted Adam Cohen author readers around the world.

    Reply

Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck Comment

  1. In the 1920 s, the nation was in the midst of a panic over feeblemindedness People were being sent away in record numbers institutionalize in state hospitals and special schools for the feebleminded The governor of Virginia made a public apology 75 years later The 75th anniversary of United States Supreme Court s ruling in Buck v Bell Adam Cohen tells the story of Carrie Buck She was a victim of the eugenics movement The Government should never have been involved Adam tells complete story about [...]


  2. A large thank you goes out to my friend, Brenda, who has agreed to jointly read and review this book, in hopes that we might stir up some discussion on the matters addressed Her review can be found at review show Cohen uses this book as a much needed soap box to highlight a case that made its way to the US Supreme Court, Buck v Bell, and whose analysis was so jaded that it has found its way on a list of the Court s worst decisions of all time Not only were some of the greatest minds of time invo [...]


  3. Recently I ve come to the conclusion,after spending the last couple of years reading books about American history and politics, that most of what I was taught in school seems to be propaganda a white washed, sanitized and just general rewriting of United States history This book, Imbeciles The Supreme Court, American Eugenics and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck taught me about a movement which began early in the 20th century which targeted poor white people mainly women for enforced sterilizati [...]


  4. This book examines the eugenics movement in the United States and the Supreme Court s ruling in Bell v Buck, which allowed for the sterilization of so called undesirables As the author notes, this ruling has not been overturned to this day But what is truly amazing is that the author turns a fascinating topic into a tedious recitation of unrelated biographical details of the principle actors involved in this case Yet, the author provides little contextualization of the American eugenics movement [...]


  5. The nation must sterilize those who sap the strength of the State to prevent our being swamped with incompetence Oliver Wendall Holmes Professing to be wise, they became fools Romans 1 22Imbecile is the story of the Supreme Court case of Buck vs Bell, which allowed sterilization of the unfit or feebleminded in the name of the eugenics movement Yes, this was in the United States beginning in the 1920s and, for some states, staying on the books until 1979 Some of the most highly respected minds of [...]


  6. This book takes a long look at the American eugenics movement and the key players in it through the story of how Carrie Buck, a young girl from Virginia, became the first in that state to be sterilized for being feeble minded after losing a Supreme Court Battle The Good I didn t know a lot about the eugenics movement I knew that it existed and people had been sterilized, immigration laws changed, etc I thought the book did a good job of capturing attitudes of the people involved The inclusion of [...]


  7. Since starting law school and even before that , I have been obsessed with constitutional law and the Supreme Court I think it is fascinating to read their rulings, see how cases build upon each other, and to read about individual justices and how their personalities can shape a SCOTUS era This last year, I learned about Buck v Bell 1927 SCOTUS found constitutional a Virginia law that allowed imbeciles to be sterilized Why Well, the story is interesting, complex, horrifying, and was a role model [...]


  8. A deeply unsettling and ominously relevant review of the American eugenics movement, an all too often forgotten and ugly injustice which I have to confess I had little idea of the scope of before reading this book While the actual discussion of the Supreme Court decision itself seemed a little under researched, Cohen does a good job at outlining the sweep of this cause through the individual stories of the people involved in this groundbreaking case Further, Cohen does excellent work in placing [...]


  9. If you are unaware that the Supreme Court in 1927 upheld the constitutionality of sterilizing persons the government deemed unfit and the way this power was used to sterilize almost exclusively poor women and men, often without their knowledge, often with ridiculous evidence of their immorality or imbecility then read this book Or read stephen Jay Gould s Mismeasure of Man to understand how such wrong headed science was believed and used to create horrific public policy because it reinforced rac [...]


  10. Eye opening and at times scary book about of the rise of eugenics in America at the beginning of the 20th century It s never a good thing when Nazi Germany patterns their own sterilization program after those in United States.After several setbacks in the courts, eugenic supporters in Virginia crafted a law that they hoped would set the standard and survive legal challenges all the way to the Supreme Court They basically used Carrie Buck as their test subject, ordering her sterilization and then [...]


  11. I received this book from the GoodReads Giveaway program I had been looking for a work on this subject and was very fortunate to win this giveaway The subject is eugenics, the pseudo science of genetic culling of undesirable traits of the human genome thru forced sterilization, a horrible, unethical and morally wrong thinking This book centers on the supreme court hearing of Buck vs Bell, a state law regarding the sterilization of an inmate of a hospital for the feeble minded Mr Cohen introduces [...]


  12. Buck v Bell is right up there with the worst Supreme Court decisions in US history Dred Scott, Plessy v Ferguson, Korematsu I haven t read an extended history of this before but now I ve read Cohen and this was unforgettable Along with a detailed biography of Carrie Bell a woman of normal intelligence , this is a study of eugenic sterilization across American history, a social history of the Progressive era, a study of the misunderstandings of human intelligence under social Darwinism, and scree [...]


  13. American history is full of injustices Forgetting these injustices adds insult to injury Adam Cohen reminds us of one of these injustices a shocking case of legal shenanigans with Imbeciles The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck In 1927, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the forced sterilization of Carrie Buck in Buck v Bell In reading this book, I was shocked to discover that the ruling has not been overturnedRead the rest of my review at A Bookish Type [...]


  14. This book is incredible and a must read I d call anyone who doesn t read it an Imbecile , but I d never lower myself to their level For non fiction, historical non fiction, human rights advocates, history lovers, and anyone with a beating heartad this I think it s obvious and fair of me to say that at a certain point with some ARC s you have to begin skimming the story even though you re hanging on every word and don t want to, however the release date was March 1, 2016 and it s time I mark it a [...]


  15. Imbeciles tells an important and sad story about the eugenics movement in the US in the early 20th century It centers around Carrie Buck, a young woman who was used as a test case to raise a Virginia sterilization law up to the Supreme Court The plot was successful, with Buck vs Bell legalizing forced sterilization in 1927 in an 8 to 1 decision Amazingly, that ruling has never been overturned.Carrie had been labeled a Middle grade Moron , which was something of a technical designation for the fe [...]


  16. I ve always been intrigued by the case of Buck v Bell I did my undergraduate degree in history at UVA, and focused on American history in the South, specifically in the past Century As someone who figured he would one day end up in law school, and Constitutional law seeming far majestic in undergrad than in law school, I paid special attention to seminal American case law during my undergraduate studies Carrie Buck, the plaintiff in this case, went to school at Venable Elementary School, a magn [...]


  17. Adam Cohen s Imbeciles The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck sheds new light on the United States Supreme Court s Buck v Bell decision, as well as the overall history of eugenics in the United States Although Buck v Bell is rightly regarded as one of the most egregious decisions ever handed down by the United States Supreme Court, digging below the surface it becomes evident that it is even worse than it appears Among the other abhorrent aspects of the decisi [...]


  18. This is the true story of Carrie Buck who was the first woman in the United States to be sterilized legally It chronicles the life of Carrie, and all of the lawyers and chief justices that had a hand in taking her ability to make decisions about her own body It was a gross miscarriage of justice Her court appointed lawyer was actually rallying for the side of the eugenicists The eugenics movement was a crazy time in the United States when scientists and intellectuals lobbied for people of the lo [...]


  19. This is a fascinating book, not just for the Carrie Buck aspect of it, but for the interrelated history.With the controversy and debates over immigration today, it s interesting to take a look back to the early 20th century when there was a move to keep Italians, eastern European Jews and other undesirables from entering the U.S because they were inferior in a number of ways, and they may even manage to pollute the US gene pool.Did you know that during the Nuremberg Trials the Nazis used policie [...]


  20. I became very interested in reading Imbeciles after hearing Adam Cohen interviewed about the book on Fresh Air with Terry Gross I found the subject completely fascinating and was amazed that I had never heard about this sad chapter of in recent American history, nor was I at all familiar with the Supreme Court case of Buck vs Bell Once I read the book, however, to be honest, I found that much of the most fascinating material had been well covered in that Fresh Air interview I know that sounds a [...]


  21. WHAT A FASCINATING SUBJECT Three generations of imbeciles are enough p 270 Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes JrGENICS IN AMERICA Government forced sterilizations of the feebleminded right here in the good ole U S of A Yessiree right here in River City Perhaps as many as seventy thousand, over the years Court sanctioned all legal and tidy like And who knew Sadly, many of its victims knew least of all what had been done to them.Adam Cohen s deeply researched, extensively footnoted, non f [...]


  22. I m a psychologist so the history of the treatment of those with mental or cognitive disabilities has always fascinated me The practice of forced sterilization is particularly cruel and was still in use till fairly recently This book focuses on how eugenics, which became reviled after Hilter took a liking to it, was considered a very forward thought by many scientists in the 1800s and 1900s It tells the story of how the States started to pass laws to force basically anyone deemed undesirable una [...]


  23. During the first half of the 20th century, the American government at various local and state levels authorized the sterilization of thousands of Americans This book tells the horrific story of the American Eugenics movement and the attempt by progressives to purify the American bloodlines by removing feeble minded individuals and people with epilepsy through sterilization The core of the book traces the history of the passing of a sterilization law in Virginia and the individuals who worked to [...]


  24. Utterly horrifying and captivating Author, Adam Cohen, digs deep to shed light on America s horrifying obsession with eugenics by outlining the supreme court case of Carrie Buck, a young girl who was declared feeble minded and sterilized At the turn of the twentieth century America s elite were infatuated with the idea of strengthening the American race by practicing eugenics on those undesirables that society wanted to get rid of imbeciles, criminals, people with physical and mental defects, ep [...]


  25. Wow this is a great book It s absolutely chilling to read about the institutions that are in place to protect American citizens completely turned against a group of people without accurate evidence And nobody even batted an eye Then these ideas transported themselves across the Atlantic to influence Nazi Germany Some of the parts kinda dragged on, especially about certain character s backgrounds However, it was easy to read and a page turner For a history book, it really hooked me Definite read


  26. I find it completely amazing for a book that purports to be a history of American Eugenics that it does not mention the name of the leading American eugenics organization, Planned Parenthood PP s leader Margaret Sanger, one of America s eugenics leaders in the 1920s 1930s, only gets two sentence in Cohen s book What a white wash of history.


  27. This book was a bit repetitive, but I was fascinated and appalled by the story of Carrie Buck and the Supreme Court s decision I also wish that the book had delved deeply into the gender elements of the American eugenics movement.


  28. Cohen s riveting story of one of the blackest episodes in American social history the mass sterilization of persons with intellectual disabilities has a particular resonance for me I spent my professional career working with these individuals and have personal knowledge of the terrible circumstances of their lives sanctioned by the powers of government, circumstances which slowly improved in the last quarter of the 20th century, but which even today are not entirely overcome I came into the fiel [...]


  29. The most famous quote of three generations of imbeciles being enough is disturbing on its face The book delves deeply into all of the major players involved in this disgraceful 8 1 decision by the court.The fact that this case tends to be glossed over when discussions of the most poorly decided court cases arise is disappointing The court has never formally overturned the precedent it set forth, though it is safe to say that any similar cases would have no standing It s horrifying that there wer [...]


  30. This book had great information content and is definitely worth reading if you aren t familiar with the case It s a pretty good reminder of one of the key reasons why technocratic policies can go horribly, horribly wrong Probably the most critical fact about this incident is that it has never been overturned.The main issue I have with the book is stylistic it s a bit over the top but mostly it s repetitive Every time Cohen brings up Audrey Strode, for example, we re given a quick rundown of all [...]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *