The Guarded Gate

No items found.

by Daniel Okrent

The Guarded Gate relates the tale of the scientists who claimed that some nationalities were fundamentally inferior, providing the rationale for the strictest immigration legislation in American history. It is a neglected, tragic chapter of American history with repercussions for the present. The eugenic arguments, popularised by the upper class New Yorkers and Bostonians who spearheaded the anti-immigration drive and included many progressives, helped keep hundreds of thousands of Jews, Italians, and other undesirable groups out of the US for more than 40 years.

The Guarded Gate, which took more than five years to write, chronicles the entire tale starting in 1895 when Henry Cabot Lodge and other Boston Brahmins started their anti-immigrant crusade. The limiting rule was passed three years after vice president Calvin Coolidge said that "biological laws" had demonstrated the inferiority of people from southern and eastern Europe. Theodore Roosevelt, Lodge's closest friend; Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's first cousin and the eccentric polymath who founded eugenics; Madison Grant, who was immensely wealthy and deeply bigoted; and others are all brought to life by Okrent in his signature style, which is both lively and authoritative; Maxwell Perkins, the renowned editor of Hemingway and Fitzgerald; Margaret Sanger, who regarded eugenics as a logical adjunct to her birth control campaign; and H. Fairfield Osborn, director of the American Museum of Natural History; founder of the Bronx Zoo; and their close friend, H. Fairfield Osborn. The Guarded Gate is a historical work that is still relevant today. It methodically ties American eugenicists to the emergence of Nazism and demonstrates how their ideas found fertile ground in the minds of people both at home and abroad.

Our thoughts on The Guarded Gate

Our favourite quote from The Guarded Gate

Book Summary

Similar recommendations

— Daniel Okrent, The Guarded Gate