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NAMED ONE OF THE "100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF THE YEAR" BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW From the widely celebrated New York Times bestselling author of Last Call--this "rigorously historical" (The Washington Post) and timely account of how the rise of eugenics helped America keep out "inferiors" in the 1920s is "a sobering, valuable contribution to discussions about immigration" (Booklist). A forgotten, dark chapter of American history with implications for the current day, The Guarded Gate tells the story of the scientists who argued that certain nationalities were inherently inferior, providing the intellectual justification for the harshest immigration law in American history. Brandished by the upper class Bostonians and New Yorkers--many of them progressives--who led the anti-immigration movement, the eugenic arguments helped keep hundreds of thousands of Jews, Italians, and other unwanted groups out of the US for more than forty years. Over five years in the writing, The Guarded Gate tells the complete story from its beginning in 1895, when Henry Cabot Lodge and other Boston Brahmins launched their anti-immigrant campaign. In 1921, Vice President Calvin Coolidge declared that "biological laws" had proven the inferiority of southern and eastern Europeans; the restrictive law was enacted three years later. In his trademark lively and authoritative style, Okrent brings to life the rich cast of characters from this time, including Lodge's closest friend, Theodore Roosevelt; Charles Darwin's first cousin, Francis Galton, the idiosyncratic polymath who gave life to eugenics; the fabulously wealthy and profoundly bigoted Madison Grant, founder of the Bronx Zoo, and his best friend, H. Fairfield Osborn, director of the American Museum of Natural History; Margaret Sanger, who saw eugenics as a sensible adjunct to her birth control campaign; and Maxwell Perkins, the celebrated editor of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. A work of history relevant for today, The Guarded Gate is "a masterful, sobering, thoughtful, and necessary book" that painstakingly connects the American eugenicists to the rise of Nazism, and shows how their beliefs found fertile soil in the minds of citizens and leaders both here and abroad.
- ISBN-13: 9781476798059
- ISBN-10: 1476798052
- Publisher: Scribner Book Company
- Publish Date: May 2020
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds
- Page Count: 496
Book Clubs: Immigration sagas
In these stories of farewells and fresh starts, crafted with discernment and compassion, book clubs will find inspiration for vibrant discussion.
Eitan Green, an Israeli surgeon, is involved in a fateful accident in Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s suspenseful novel Waking Lions. During a late-night drive, Eitan hits and kills an Eritrean man and leaves the scene. When the victim’s wife tracks him down, she agrees to keep silent about the incident if Eitan promises to secretly treat undocumented Eritrean immigrants. Eitan agrees, but the decision leads him into a web of deceit. This razor-sharp examination of the plight of displaced peoples will give reading groups plenty to talk about as it delves into questions of integrity, loyalty and honesty.
For reading groups that enjoy science and social history, Daniel Okrent’s The Guarded Gate focuses on the eugenics movement in early 20th-century America and how it helped bring about the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act, a law that prevented millions of Europeans from immigrating to the United States. This volume is a sobering, expansive study of discrimination and nativism, but it’s also eminently readable thanks to Okrent’s accessible writing style.
In Rakesh Satyal’s novel No One Can Pronounce My Name, Harit, a middle-aged Indian immigrant, lives with his troubled mother in the Cleveland suburbs. They are each mourning the death of Harit’s sister, Swati, in their own ways. Harit finds an unexpected friend in Ranjana, a fellow immigrant coping with her own losses by secretly writing paranormal romances. Satyal fashions a narrative tinged with melancholy and humor in this rewarding book, which engages with issues of gender roles and family ties.
American Street, Ibi Zoboi’s debut YA novel, tells the story of 16-year-old Fabiola, who leaves Haiti to settle with her mother, Valerie, in Detroit. When they arrive in the United States, Valerie is detained by customs officials. After being taken in by her American cousins, Fabiola grapples with an unfamiliar culture while trying to hold on to the traditions of home. Poignant but hopeful, American Street is a powerful examination of identity and kinship that’s enriched by Zoboi’s use of Haitian mythology. It’s an unforgettable account of the difficulties of assimilation and the experience of being an outsider.