This is the book bound research of the offspring of Nobel Prize sperm, the conception of the eugenics movement, which became the quasi-answer to the question: which is more important in raising good children, nature or nuture?
Plotz makes a plea to mothers who went to the Repository for Germinal Choice or any children with a little piece of Nobel DNA in them and he takes their stories and runs with them. In no way doing a disservice. The Genius Factory is well researched, but interrupted with opinions and stories of the resulting children. Plotz has a background in journalism with Slate so the book weaves dry facts with thoughtful personals.
For instance, it all began with a racist — well, in the end that status was undefined he was fine with the company of black people, but didn’t want their genes proliferated because his data set found their lifestyle subpar — millionaire who wanted to create a generation of super smart people. Sperm from Nobel Prize winners (which turned out to be false) to be deposited into women in Mensa (again, false).
Which is intriguing on its own, but with people come with emotions and parents hold emotions at a constant high. While artificial insemination is more accepted these days, back in the 80s the procedure was much more cloaked and spoken in hushed tones. So these prospective mothers were married to infertile men, were impregnated by strangers, had a miracle baby, their husbands soon became the strangers in the marriage and fatherhood, and the babies are raised primarily by strong women.
And then we come to the children and how they feel. Suddenly their known dads are not their real dads and these kids are promoted to demi-gods. The expectations are shot along straight up to Olympia.
Each section is obviously developed further and written in a way that makes you want to run through the chapter quicker. This is different from a page turner. Page turners are books you find yourself reading at 2 o’clock in the morning because it’s so thrilling. This book was packed with research, but together in a digestive way. It’s funny too.
But the chapters are their own section and going from one to the next was less fluid. Plotz attempted to give prose to hard research so the chapters ended in cliffhangers that weren’t as successful as he likely hoped. Read, become intrigued, end chapter, close book, think over information. Repeat later.
It took some time to finish Genius. I’m a better woman for it. If I ever do have children, I know I can make mistakes, the father could be a dumb-dumb, but as long as I’m loving and consistent and supportive, the kid has a good chance of a stellar future. Nature only provides so much, like how your kids will look like. Nuture seems to be the prevailer of the two in most areas.
Ha, this thing morphed into a parenting manual for me. Anyways, it’s a chunky book, divided by pictures (no lie), so read it in a chunky way.
Chunky. Huh, I don’t think I’ve ever used that word before.