Catalogue


The Nazi war on cancer /
Robert N. Proctor.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1999.
description
x, 380 p. : ill.
ISBN
0691001960 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1999.
isbn
0691001960 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
2934284
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [351]-364) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Robert N. Proctor is Professor of the History of Science at Pennsylvania State University.
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Robert Proctor is an outstanding historian of science and an outstanding historian of the Third Reich. By establishing Nazism''s pioneering contributions in the areas of preventive medicine, environmentalism, and public health, he takes us right to the heart of the most difficult questions in the analysis of fascism. His treatment of smoking and cancer will be a revelation. This book troubles the politics and ethics of historical interpretation in the very best ways."-- Geoff Eley, author of Reshaping the German Right: Radical Nationalism and Political Change after Bismarck "Racily and wittily written, Proctor''s interesting book is a brilliant demonstration of how marginal the Nazi past has become to contemporary health issues. A conclusion long since obvious to the former inhabitants of Bosnia or Rwanda, shot or hacked to death, in the very long shadow of the Holocaust."-- Michael Burleigh, author of Ethics and Extermination: Reflections on Nazi Genocide "A profound and provocative analysis of the very essence of medical research and health policy. While Robert Proctor focuses on cancer research in Nazi Germany, his book is a detailed examination of the basic value system underlying medical research and public health policy. This unsettling and fascinating account is a must read for every medical scientist."-- William E. Seidelman, M.D., University of Toronto "This book is a major contribution to the history of science and medicine in the Nazi era. Nazism emerges as a kind of vast hygienic experiment that tried to create an exclusionist utopia, by using both good science and laudable health drives, along with murderous practices aimed at the Jews and others deemed to be unworthy of life. The book should be of interest to anyone concerned about the ethical, political, and social implications of modern science."-- Robert Gellately, author of The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy "Robert Proctor has once again produced a brilliant volume that will both fascinate and infuriate readers.... Just as he did in his previous book Racial Hygiene Proctors analysis tears at the very fabric of our belief that good science is moral science. ...This book will force all of us to sit up and think about the consequences of our actions and our moral responsibilities to account for just what we are doing in the name of scientific neutrality and objectivity."-- David Rosner, author of Deadly Dust: Silicosis and the Politics of Occupational Disease in Twentieth Century America "Professor Proctor has written a compelling and wonderfully readable account of how Nazi physicians confronted cancer. Sophisticated research went with racial megalomania, as German researchers targeted diet, occupation, smoking, and radium as cancer-inducing. Understanding the Nazi politics of medical research and disease eradication is both haunting and instructive for modern efforts to overcome cancer."-- Paul Weindling, author of Health, Race and German Politics between National Unification and Nazism, 1870-1945 "Proctors book should fundamentally alter the way we view science under the swastika. Without minimizing either the crimes of the Nazi regime or the complexity of its internal politics, Proctor shows that National Socialist health initiatives ran the entire spectrum from barbaric to benign. This should be essential reading, not just for historians of science and medicine, but for anyone interested in the history of the Third Reich."-- Diane Paul, author of Controlling Human Heredity: 1865 to the Present and The Politics of Heredity: Essays on Eugenics, Biomedicine, and the Nature-Nurture Debate "A fascinating account of medical and public-health ideas and policies in Nazi Germany. Its ironic emphasis on the--in retrospect--rational aspects of Hitler-era attitudes toward environmental contaminants, tobacco, and diet underlines the complex and contingent relationships among medicine, ideology, science, and policy."-- Charles Rosenberg, author of Explaining Epidemics "Lively prose and clear organization make this a wonderful book. The Nazi War on Cancer makes a major contribution to the field of Nazi history, with its attention to progressive concerns within repressive and racialized settings. Rather than normalizing evil, Proctor refines it in his sustained discussions of the ethical paradoxes he has encountered in his research."-- Claudia Koonz, Duke University "This book is interesting, informative, original, well-researched and well-written, and critical yet balanced in its judgments. It breaks new ground, and should attract considerable interest among and beyond historians of science, medicine, and National Socialism."-- Mark Walker, Union College "This book is interesting, informative, original, well-researched and well-written, and critical yet balanced in its judgments. It should attract considerable interest among and beyond historians of science, medicine, and National Socialism."-- Mark Walker, author of German National Socialism and the Quest for Nuclear Power, 1939-1949 and Nazi Science
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1999-06-14:
In a book that plumbs both the dark and light sides of the utopian impulse, Penn State history of science professor Proctor (Racial Hygiene; Cancer Wars; etc.) takes a look at the healthy side of fascism. Hitler's government implemented many laudable public health measures, including the regulation of pesticides, asbestos and food dyes. Germany, Proctor notes, had the most aggressive anti-smoking campaign in the world, and German scientists were the first to link smoking with lung cancer. As Proctor outlines the sophistication of German medical science and the ambitions of Nazi public health policy, he asks provocative questions about the relationship between scientific culture and political culture, describing, for instance, how cancer metaphors were used to describe the "subhumans" the regime sought to exterminate as tumors on the German body. Proctor's moral compass stays true: he doesn't exonerate Nazi science but rather looks at how the cult of the Aryan race, which stressed healthy living, played out in the everyday work of scientists who concerned themselves with public health. "My intention is not to argue that today's antitobacco efforts have fascist roots, or that public health measures are in principle totalitarian," he writes. Instead, Proctor seeks to give his readers a more comlex appreciation of "how the routine practice of science can so easily coexist with the routine exercise of cruelty." At this, he succeeds admirably, giving readers a thoroughly researched account of Nazi medical science and posing difficult questions about the ultimate worth of good research carried out under the auspices of evil. Illustrations. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 1999-10-01:
Examining the confluence of racist, expansionist, and public health goals in Nazi cancer policy, Proctor (history of science, Pennsylvania State Univ.) argues that science in the Third Reich was both more complex and accomplished than previously acknowledged. In this new study, he builds on his earlier Racial Hygiene (CH, Feb'89) and Cancer Wars (CH, Nov'95) by outlining the bifurcated Nazi cancer policy of high-quality prevention and care for "Aryans," together with sterilization, forced labor, and mass murder for "subhumanity." Proctor details Nazi public health initiatives, including history's most extensive antitobacco campaign, research about occupational carcinogens, and food additive bans. The study should have treated political-industrial relations more broadly, because in recounting several instances where the German chemical and tobacco industries caved in to party-state pressure, Proctor ignores how the command economy made the Nazi war on cancer profoundly dissimilar to the postwar US experience. A few errors about WW II and the Holocaust mar what is otherwise a fascinating, thoughtful, and beautifully illustrated tome. The findings complement Michael Burleigh's Death and Deliverance (CH, Sep'95) and Kristie Macrakis's Surviving the Swastika (CH, Apr'94). Recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above. J. R. White University of Nebraska--Lincoln
Appeared in Library Journal on 2000-01-01:
Discovering that forward-looking health restrictions (about smoking, asbestos, radiation, and diet) were mixed in with the monstrous policies of Nazi-era German medicine, Proctor investigates without sensationalizing. His first-rate history restores complexity and a squeamishly recognizable contemporary element to our often cartoonish picture of that time. An excellent work of scholarship that is also well told. (LJ 4/15/99) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
Winner of the 1999 Arthur Viseltear Prize for the History of Public Health in America, Medical Care Section of the American Public Health Association
" The Nazi War on Cancer is a provocative and powerful book. It presents a great deal of research in an accessible, even breezy style and makes important contributions both to the history of medicine and to our understanding of fascism's many dimensions."-- Paul Lerner, The Times Higher Education Supplement
"The Nazi war on cancer? Other readers may be as incredulous as I was when this book came to my attention. We think of Hitler's regime as waging war on nations and peoples, not on behalf of public health. But good historical work surprises us by recovering forgotten facets of the past. Robert N. Proctor, a veteran historian of science who teaches at Pennsylvania State University, has produced a book full of surprises."-- Michael Sherry, New York Times Book Review
"Well documented and highly readable. . . . This is an important book which will encourage the reader to reflect on the ways in which medical science was conducted and used in the twentieth century."-- Nature
"Proctor's provocative book is highly recommended. . . ."-- Library Journal (starred review)
"[Proctor] succeeds admirably, giving readers a thoroughly researched account of Nazi medical science and posing difficult questions about the ultimate worth of good research carried out under the auspices of evil."-- Publishers Weekly
"Proctor describes the Nazi-era programs and scientific work with tobacco, alcohol, and industrial chemicals in detail, enlivening his account with anecdotes and a smooth sense of humor. . . . Fascinating stuff."-- Booklist
"Proctor has produced an absorbing and rewarding study of a grim yet important episode in scientific history. His intellectual grip on the subject never slackens, and his well-crafted prose, almost entirely free of academic jargon, will delight a wide readership."-- Ralph Amelan, The Jerusalem Post
"In this pathbreaking and courageous study, Robert N. Proctor not only tells a fascinating story but also makes an important historiographical critique. . . . Proctor challenges readers to contemplate what it means for fanaticism, crime, and callousness to have coexisted with common sense and rigorous scientific inquiry."-- Bronwyn McFarland-Icke, Medical History
"In his forthcoming book, Robert B. Proctor suggests that Nazi researchers were the first to recognize the connection between cancer and cigarettes. The prevailing view was that British and American scientists established the lung-cancer link during the early 1950's. In fact says Proctor, 'the Nazis conducted world-class studies in the field.' But their findings, because of the abhorrent medical practices used by the regime, were ignored. Hitler, a teetotaling vegetarian, believed healthy living advanced the master race; Jews, Gypsies and smokers soiled the purity of the nation."-- David Spitz, Time Magazine
"A readable and well-referenced book that appears to be a work of public health history but is really much more."-- Journal of the American Medical Association
"A remarkable study. . . . Without in any way minimizing or relativizing the evils of medical euthanasia or genocide, Proctor shows that the Nazi obsession with nurturing a healthy Aryan people led to serious scientific work in public health that can only be called progressive in its implications."-- Martin Jay, London Review of Books
"A readable and well-referenced book. . . . Much of what the book reveals may well prove disturbing to many readers. . . . All who consider themselves participants in the contemporary war on cancer had best read this book. . .."-- Journal of the the American Medical Association
"[An] illuminating analysis of the interaction between science and national neurosis. . . . Proctor provides ample documentation of his claim. . . . Proctor has produced a much-needed corrective to our understanding of the Third Reich+s medical culture. . . ."-- Sherwin B. Nuland, The New Republic
"[An] arresting and important exploration. . . . The value of [this] unblinking book lies in its revelations about why the Nazis were absorbed with the problem of cancer, what they learned about the sources of the disease, and the actions they took to prevent it."-- Daniel J. Kevles, The New York Review of Books
"[A] fascinating book . . . . Proctor's account is outstanding . . . A generation ago, Hannah Arendt increased the world's understanding of Nazi behavior (and caused a lot of controversy) by talking about the 'banality of evil.' Robert N. Proctor has now brought us a concept nearly as unsettling, the 'banality of good.'"-- David Brown, Washington Post Book World
"A fascinating look at German contributions to the study of cancer. . . . Proctor's account is well-researched and richly illustrated, and he delineates carefully documented facts in fluid prose. . . . [A]n important, instructive book. . . ."-- Kirkus Reviews
"A fascinating, substantial study of cancer and lifestyle in Nazi Germany.. . . Proctor's examples are vivid and his analysis incisive; precisely because of the congenial mix of the specific and the abstract, The Nazi War on Cancer stands out as a major contribution to the study of fascism and will undoubtedly--and deservedly--become a standard item, on reading lists in 20th-century history."-- Peter Fritzsche, American Scientist
"A fascinating, thoughtful, and beautifully illustrated tome."-- Choice
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist, April 1999
Library Journal, April 1999
Kirkus Reviews, May 1999
Publishers Weekly, June 1999
San Francisco Chronicle, July 1999
Choice, October 1999
Library Journal, January 2000
Doody's Reviews, March 2000
New York Times Book Review, May 2001
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
Collaboration in the Holocaust. Murderous & torturous medical experiments. The "euthanasia" of hundreds of thousands of people with mental or physical disabilities. Widespread sterilization of "the unfit." Nazi doctors committed these & countless other atrocities as part of Hitler's warped quest to create a German master race. Robert Proctor recently made the explosive discovery, however, that Nazi Germany was also decades ahead of other countries in promoting health reforms that we today regard as progressive & socially responsible. Most startling, Nazi scientists were the first to definitively link lung cancer & cigarette smoking. Proctor explores the controversial & troubling questions that such findings raise: Were the Nazis more complex morally than we thought? Can good science come from an evil regime? What might this reveal about health activism in our own society? Proctor argues that we must view Hitler's Germany more subtly than we have in the past. But he also concludes that the Nazis' forward-looking health activism ultimately came from the same twisted root as their medical crimes: the ideal of a sanitary racial utopia reserved exclusively for pure & healthy Germans. Author of an earlier groundbreaking work on Nazi medical horrors, Proctor began this book after discovering documents showing that the Nazis conducted the most aggressive antismoking campaign in modern history. Further research revealed that Hitler's government passed a wide range of public health measures, including restrictions on asbestos, radiation, pesticides, & food dyes. Nazi health officials introduced strict occupational health & safety standards, & promoted such foods as whole-grain bread & soybeans. These policies went hand in hand with health propaganda that, for example, idealized the Fhrer's body & his nonsmoking, vegetarian lifestyle. Proctor shows that cancer also became an important social metaphor, as the Nazis portrayed Jews & other "enemies of the Volk" as tumors that must be eliminated from the German body politic. This is a disturbing & profoundly important book. It is only by appreciating the connections between the "normal" & the "monstrous" aspects of Nazi science & policy, Proctor reveals, that we can fully understand not just the horror of fascism, but also its deep & seductive appeal even to otherwise right-thinking Germans.
Unpaid Annotation
Collaboration in the Holocaust. Murderous and torturous medical experiments. The "euthanasia" of hundreds of thousands of people with mental or physical disabilities. Widespread sterilization of "the unfit." Nazi doctors committed these and countless other atrocities as part of Hitler's warped quest to create a German master race. Robert Proctor recently made the explosive discovery, however, that Nazi Germany was also decades ahead of other countries in promoting health reforms that we today regard as progressive and socially responsible. Most startling, Nazi scientists were the first to definitively link lung cancer and cigarette smoking. Proctor explores the controversial and troubling questions that such findings raise: Were the Nazis more complex morally than we thought? Can good science come from an evil regime? What might this reveal about health activism in our own society? Proctor argues that we must view Hitler's Germany more subtly than we have in the past. But he also concludes that the Nazis' forward-looking health activism ultimately came from the same twisted root as their medical crimes: the ideal of a sanitary racial
Main Description
Collaboration in the Holocaust. Murderous and torturous medical experiments. The "euthanasia" of hundreds of thousands of people with mental or physical disabilities. Widespread sterilization of "the unfit." Nazi doctors committed these and countless other atrocities as part of Hitler's warped quest to create a German master race. Robert Proctor recently made the explosive discovery, however, that Nazi Germany was also decades ahead of other countries in promoting health reforms that we today regard as progressive and socially responsible. Most startling, Nazi scientists were the first to definitively link lung cancer and cigarette smoking. Proctor explores the controversial and troubling questions that such findings raise: Were the Nazis more complex morally than we thought? Can good science come from an evil regime? What might this reveal about health activism in our own society? Proctor argues that we must view Hitler's Germany more subtly than we have in the past. But he also concludes that the Nazis' forward-looking health activism ultimately came from the same twisted root as their medical crimes: the ideal of a sanitary racial utopia reserved exclusively for pure and healthy Germans. Author of an earlier groundbreaking work on Nazi medical horrors, Proctor began this book after discovering documents showing that the Nazis conducted the most aggressive antismoking campaign in modern history. Further research revealed that Hitler's government passed a wide range of public health measures, including restrictions on asbestos, radiation, pesticides, and food dyes. Nazi health officials introduced strict occupational health and safety standards, and promoted such foods as whole-grain bread and soybeans. These policies went hand in hand with health propaganda that, for example, idealized the F hrer's body and his nonsmoking, vegetarian lifestyle. Proctor shows that cancer also became an important social metaphor, as the Nazis portrayed Jews and other "enemies of the Volk" as tumors that must be eliminated from the German body politic. This is a disturbing and profoundly important book. It is only by appreciating the connections between the "normal" and the "monstrous" aspects of Nazi science and policy, Proctor reveals, that we can fully understand not just the horror of fascism, but also its deep and seductive appeal even to otherwise right-thinking Germans.
Publisher Fact Sheet
Proctor shares his recent discovery that Nazi Germany was decades ahead of other countries in promoting health reforms that we today regard as progressive & socially responsible & that Nazi scientists were the first to definitively link lung cancer & cigarette smoking.
Main Description
Collaboration in the Holocaust. Murderous and torturous medical experiments. The "euthanasia" of hundreds of thousands of people with mental or physical disabilities. Widespread sterilization of "the unfit." Nazi doctors committed these and countless other atrocities as part of Hitler's warped quest to create a German master race. Robert Proctor recently made the explosive discovery, however, that Nazi Germany was also decades ahead of other countries in promoting health reforms that we today regard as progressive and socially responsible. Most startling, Nazi scientists were the first to definitively link lung cancer and cigarette smoking. Proctor explores the controversial and troubling questions that such findings raise: Were the Nazis more complex morally than we thought? Can good science come from an evil regime? What might this reveal about health activism in our own society? Proctor argues that we must view Hitler's Germany more subtly than we have in the past. But he also concludes that the Nazis' forward-looking health activism ultimately came from the same twisted root as their medical crimes: the ideal of a sanitary racial utopia reserved exclusively for pure and healthy Germans. Author of an earlier groundbreaking work on Nazi medical horrors, Proctor began this book after discovering documents showing that the Nazis conducted the most aggressive antismoking campaign in modern history. Further research revealed that Hitler's government passed a wide range of public health measures, including restrictions on asbestos, radiation, pesticides, and food dyes. Nazi health officials introduced strict occupational health and safety standards, and promoted such foods as whole-grain bread and soybeans. These policies went hand in hand with health propaganda that, for example, idealized the FÜhrer's body and his nonsmoking, vegetarian lifestyle. Proctor shows that cancer also became an important social metaphor, as the Nazis portrayed Jews and other "enemies of the Volk" as tumors that must be eliminated from the German body politic. This is a disturbing and profoundly important book. It is only by appreciating the connections between the "normal" and the "monstrous" aspects of Nazi science and policy, Proctor reveals, that we can fully understand not just the horror of fascism, but also its deep and seductive appeal even to otherwise right-thinking Germans.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. ix
Prologuep. 3
Hueper's Secretp. 13
Triumphs of the Intellectp. 15
"The Number One Enemy of the State"p. 20
Erwin Liek and the Ideology of Preventionp. 22
Early Detection and Mass Screeningp. 27
The Gleichschaltung of German Cancer Researchp. 35
The Fates of Jewish Scientistsp. 36
Registries and Medical Surveillancep. 40
The Rhetoric of Cancer Researchp. 45
Romancing Nature and the Question of Cancer's Increasep. 51
Genetic and Racial Theoriesp. 58
Cancer and the Jewish Questionp. 58
Selection and Sterilizationp. 68
Occupational Carcinogenesisp. 73
Health and Work in the Reichp. 74
X-Rays and Radiation Martyrsp. 83
Radium and Uraniump. 93
Arsenic, Chromium, Quartz, and Other Kinds of Dustsp. 102
The Funeral Dress of Kings (Asbestos)p. 107
Chemical Industry Cancersp. 114
The Nazi Dietp. 120
Resisting the Artificial Lifep. 124
Meat versus Vegetablesp. 126
The Fuhrer's Foodp. 134
The Campaign against Alcholp. 141
Performance-Enhancing Foods and Drugsp. 154
Foods for Fighting Cancerp. 160
Banning Butter Yellowp. 165
Ideology and Realityp. 170
The Campaign against Tobaccop. 173
Early Oppositionp. 176
Making the Cancer Connectionp. 178
Fritz Lickint: The Doctor "Most Hated by the Tobacco Industry"p. 183
Nazi Medical Moralismp. 186
Franz H. Muller: The Forgotten Father of Experimental Epidemiologyp. 191
Moving into Actionp. 198
Karl Astel's Institute for Tobacco Hazards Researchp. 206
Gesundheit uber Allesp. 217
Reemtsma's Forbidden Fruitp. 228
The Industry's Counterattackp. 238
Tobacco's Collapsep. 242
The Monstrous and the Prosaicp. 248
The Science Question under Fascismp. 249
Complicating Quackeryp. 252
Biowarfare Research in Disguisep. 258
Organic Monumentalismp. 264
Did Nazi Policy Prevent Some Cancers?p. 267
Playing the Nazi Cardp. 270
Is Nazi Cancer Research Tainted?p. 271
The Flip Side of Fascismp. 277
Notesp. 279
Bibliographyp. 351
Acknowledgmentsp. 365
Indexp. 367
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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