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The Genius Factory: The Secret History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank (Englisch) Hörkassette


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39 von 44 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Fun, But Serious 8. Juni 2005
Von Sheryl Katz - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
The Genius Factory manages to be a page-turner that pokes fun at its subject while simultaneously giving it serious treatment. Many books that start out as magazine articles merely feel stretched out when expanded into a book. In the case of the Genius Factory the extra pages, and expanded treatment are well worth it.

The book deals with three interesting and important stories, weaving them together in a first person account as the author learns more about his subject. The first story is the history of the eugenics movement and how the quest for more perfect people (often motivated by simplistic racist notions) led to the idea of a sperm bank that would hold the sperm of geniuses (crudely defined as Nobel prize winning scientists). This story is filled with colorful characters such as Robert Graham - the originator of the sperm bank - the inventor of plastic eyeglass lenses, and William Shockley - one of the Nobel Prize winners who contributed sperm - winner of the Nobel Prize for inventing the transistor (he is the father of Silicon Valley and his company was the progenitor of intel). It is also a story of racism, misguided notions of improving mankind, and a philosophy that leads to Nazism.

The second story is the story of the families. Plotz tracked down several of the children that resulted from the sperm bank, and he got to know the children and their parents. He also tracked down some of the donors, and their stories are in some cases more complex and interesting than I would have imagined. I don't want to give away too much, so I'll just say that the experience of the families and the impact of the experience is fascinating.

The third story is the story of fertility treatments. While this story is not as developed as the other two, as events develop, the history of fertility treatments becomes significant as it intertwines with the story of artificial insemination.

I read this book in one sitting, and it was as compelling as any mystery. While it is written in a playful tone, it does takes its subject seriously and observes its characters with compassion. This is far from the most authoritative source you can find on the subjects covered, but it is highly entertaining, informative and thought-provoking.
17 von 18 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
a need to breed 19. Juli 2005
Von E.B. Bristol - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This book tells the spectacular story of the "Nobel" sperm bank started by an American enthusiast of eugenics. High IQ and good looking individuals were recruited, although their claims to being superior specimens would not always hold up years later when they were met by their surrogate children in person. Indeed with lax security (and journalists like the author) it was possible to bridge the gap and contact one's donor. Results, as you might expect, are varied.

Although some of the derision and disgust toward the donors and their families was justified, I felt it should not have been so marked. While it is easy to lose your professional distance writing about people who are by turns moving and repelling, I thought the author should have contained himself.

It did not seem to me that donating sperm gave him a more understanding and empathic view of those who did. Instead it simply gave him a sense of inflated self-importance because he was told he had superior sperm. While pride is understandable, I felt it should have been omitted, as it detracted from the stories of the donors and their families.

What was moving, however, was the story of the elderly donor and his "granddaughter," and the conclusions several children came to that it was the heart not the brain that ultimately influenced how worthwhile an individual is. As the author points out, advances in gene technology now make it possible to screen for various characteristics of the fetus, and more are in the works. Sometimes it's the "soul" that gets lost in the process.
33 von 38 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A Sensationalized Account without Merit 6. Januar 2008
Von E. Sloan - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
My husband is one of the children Mr. Plotz writes about in his book and in his articles on Slate. Unfortunately, Mr. Plotz is much more concerned with creating a sensational story than with fairly or accurately presenting the lives of the people involved in the Repository.

My husband's experience with Mr. Plotz demonstrated to us that Mr. Plotz's sole interest is in dramatizing and sensationalizing, even to the point of distortion, the experiences of those he interviews in order to benefit from their stories himself. Please read all his writings with a critical eye - he was neither "sensitive" to the "emotional consequences" of his journalism in our encounters with him, nor was he respectful of the youth and vulnerability of his subjects in our experience.
20 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Genius Factory Produces a High Quality Read 21. Juni 2005
Von J. Wingard - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
From my first glance between the pages, I knew I wouldn't be able to put this book down. It is part history, part science, part editorial, part sociological study; and has an appeal to a wide audience.

The success stories are few but they are well-written and are more detailed than one might expect from a news report. It is very easy to get emotionally involved with the outcomes of the children which resulted from the sperm donors. Plotz has a unique style, providing enough information to satisfy the reader at every chapter, but leaving the reader curious of the outcome. I very much enjoyed Plotz's speculative prose as it made each story a personal journey as well.

Plotz also places the sperm bank, Graham, and others in historical context. He provides short biographies of the scientists involved with the project, a short history of IVF, and events and anecdotes which depict the sociology of the times. He makes some vast reaching claims on the relationship between American eugenics and Nazism and others; and while all are abhorrent, no evidence for direct links was provided. The speculation however, was nonetheless interesting.

There is a chapter in which he discusses the significance of the mother's genetic material in regards to the personality and success of each child, which put the sperm donation in a more complete and proper perspective. He also briefly describes the phenomenon known as imprinting.

My largest criticism of the book is in regards to the occasional word choice. The author clearly states his background, which to some degree puts his comments in perspective. But one wonders if the author is aware of how his subconscious views are closer to the eugenics perspective than he might think. While the author clearly aims to make eugenics seem nothing other than a bigoted pseudo-science, he uses derogatory labels to refer to some groups, particularly those without secondary education. The trail of the putative Nobel children appears to have been not only a journalistic passion but a personal one; a journey to define intelligence and to some extent, success.

The Genius Factory is a fascinating glimpse into the obsessive minds of Graham, the fear-ridden pseudo-science of the 1950's, the plight of the parents and children of Grahams experiment, and a look into a world not dictated by genes but of possibility.
16 von 20 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Nothing Scientific About this Book 10. März 2006
Von Roger J. Corns - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Starting off with the premise that this book is a review of the lives of the 200 children born of Nobel prize winning sperm donors is completely misleading to the reader. It has been a long time since I actually felt lied to in the preamble to purchasing a book. Readers should know that no children are born of Nobel prize winners, no examination of the lives of 200 sperm donors from the bank is undertaken and no scientific information on genetics are even discussed throughout the whole book. In fact, even the data collection of the few lives the author does research seems adhoc at best.

What this book is about is a look at some kids who find their true fathers through the help of the author, but more so through a Canadian director researching the same topic for a movie documentary. The author seems to ride on the coattails of this director in finding out a lot of his information. All the while he makes enormously ridiculous comments and judgments about the supposed Nobel prize winning sperm bank and genetics. He never once looks at the topic with an open mind, that maybe, just maybe extremely bright parents might be more likely to have extremely bright children.

He does some good research in unraveling the Nobel sperm bank and the people behind it. But it seems he relies on old interviews and tv show spots from the 70s and 80s, a time when these topics of genetics and race and IQ were strictly taboo.

The book feels to me that it was trying to use the hype around a Nobel prize winning sperm bank to create a marketing buzz when infact this book is nothing but a review of what could be any sperm bank and any children born of it. Quite disappointing.
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