Control by Adam Rutherford

Published March 8, 2023

Control by Adam Rutherford

Book info

  • Title Control
  • Author Adam Rutherford
  • Year 2022
  • Genre Non-fiction

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.


I like Adam Rutherford’s style, he’s good at describing complicated scientific concepts well and that’s useful for this book which takes on the huge topic of eugenics. The book is in two halves, the first describing the history of eugenics and the different forms it has taken, and the second looking at the global impacts and where we are today, and where we might be going.

It’s a controversial and difficult topic, this one, and I wouldn’t know where to begin weighing in on the actual concepts but I do know that the book was fascinating and made me think and that’s exactly what you want from a book like this.

Rating: 4 / 5

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