Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant
Jonathan SpiroE-book: $24.99
Spiro’s text is organized by theme, sacrificing clear chronology for a better grasp of Grant’s pervasive influence-a worthwhile trade that keeps the narrative comprehensive and enlightening, peeling back layers of history to expose America’s casual racism and the disturbing ways American law set the precedent for Nazi atrocities. A superb reintroduction to one of America's most complex modern figures.
In this exhaustively researched biography, Spiro masterfully details Grant’s ideas and accomplishments with wit and style. . . .Grant has long deserved better than he has gotten from historians and at long last Jonathan Spiro has given Madison Grant exactly what he deserved.
—Journal of the History of Biology
In spotlighting the connection between wildlife management and eugenics, Spiro has put his finger on something important. The obsession with improving breeding stock linked Grant with Hitler on the right and with other more respectable eugenicists on the left, including Margaret Sanger (who promoted birth control) and Theodore Roosevelt (who hated it).
—The New Republic
Accessible and engaging . . . Spiro’s biography recaptures an important strain of early twentieth-century American thought and reflects the complexity of its connections to other major ideas of the period.
—Pacific Historical Review
Jonathan Spiro has written an informative and often witty life and times of Madison Grant. . . . This book's great achievement is to explain how a dilettante elite resisted its own obsolescence, even as a meritocracy practicing a scientific mode of inquiry superseded it.
JONATHAN SPIRO is a professor of history at Castleton State College in Vermont.