Authors: Kevin Begos (Goodreads Author), Danielle Deaver, John Railey, Scott Sexton, Paul Lombardo
Hardcover: 244 pages
Publisher: Gray Oak Press (March 20, 2012)
They were wives and daughters. Unwed mothers. Children. Even a 10-year-old boy. Some were blind or mentally retarded. Toward the end they were mostly black and poor, and it all took place not in the distant past, but up until the 1970s.
For more than 40 years North Carolina ran one of the nation’s largest and most aggressive sterilization programs. It expanded after World War II, even as most other states pulled back in light of the horrors of Hitler’s Germany.
This spring, North Carolina is poised to become the first state to pay reparations to victims of eugenics, or involuntary sterilization.
North Carolina’s historic debate over its eugenic past was launched by Against Their Will, a series in the Winston- Salem Journal. A team of reporters exposed the scientific flaws and racial bais of the eugenics program through interviews with victims, the doctors who operated on them, the bureaucrats who ran the program, and long-hidden documents that historian Johanna Schoen shared with a reporter.
The series led directly to an apology from the governor and the first efforts in the nation seeking to compensate victims of eugenics. Against Their Will has drawn praise from civil rights groups, historians, and the general public.
The book is written in a very matter of fact manner, mainly through various journalistic reports of hearings and first person interviews with people that were processed into this system. But though the writing may be on the dry side, it is a book that fills your mind with incredulous horror that a state took such drastic and ill thought out measures to bring about the "betterment of the people".
That they got away with sterilizing so many people, some with nothing wrong with them except they were poor and underprivileged is unbelievable. One poor girl that they discuss in this book was sterilized because her father was raping her and he and her mother were concerned that she might get pregnant. Another was taken from her family at 13 and moved into her relative's house where an older relative immediately raped her. When she became pregnant it was decided she had loose morals and was sterilized directly after the baby was born without even knowing about. Finally, there is no excuse for the castration of a 10 year old boy.
This is a book that shows how easily it is to let authority figures run loose with frightening acts and rules and how we must be ever vigilant to make sure we keep our rights and freedom. We don't want to become another Hitler nation do we?
Reviewed by Idgie. If you would like to have the Dew review a book, please contact me at email@example.com