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Smith, author of The Body (1968), is a BBC reporter with a few annoying ""special report"" mannerisms: he's always telling you that he just explained X, or is about to consider a new aspect of Y, or is now going to direct some further attention to Z. His purpose here is to draw out the moral implications of modern genetics. As a factual guide this is pretty thin (and marred by arch effects intended to sweeten scientific pills), but it does keep loudly mentioning socio-ethical dilemmas from which most of us would rather shrink. Smith shows how drastically mankind has interfered with the process of natural selection, largely through medical ""progress"" that narrows the genetic basis of resistance to disease and perpetuates a host of congenital misfortunes that can be ""cured"" in individuals but will be amplified in the population at large by the progeny which, in a harsher age, would never have survived. Smith frankly though unhappily recommends a public eugenic policy to reconcile our need for reduced population with the simultaneous need to maintain control over the continuing human gene pool. He is convinced that, like it or not, the state will eventually have to decide (or strongly influence parents' decisions) re what babies should be allowed to live, or even who should be allowed to breed. Smith points out that as our global resources shrink, the current practice of preserving the genetically disadvantaged will have ever-expanding implications in terms of ali-too-limited time, money, and effort. A disturbing look at what could be an avidly exploited political issue before the end of the decade.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1975
Publisher: Lippincott