Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America


Daniel Okrent’s first book since the prize-winning Last Call tells the chilling story of how anti-immigration activists of the early twentieth century — most of them well-born, many of them progressives — used the bogus science of eugenics to justify closing the immigration door in 1924.

The Guarded Gate features a cast of characters ranging from Theodore Roosevelt to Margaret Sanger to Maxwell Perkins (the editor of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, he also published the leading proponents of what became known as “scientific racism”). In the process, it vivifies the three-decade campaign that made xenophobia respectable, and then enshrined it in federal law for more than 40 years.

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“Fascinating.” Engrossing.” Spellbinding.” “Necessary.” “Written with a grace that any novelist would envy.”

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