Download The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America Audiobook

The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America Audiobook, by Daniel Okrent Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Daniel Okrent Narrator: Daniel Okrent Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2019 ISBN: 9781508279914
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By the widely celebrated New York Times bestselling author of Last Call—the powerful, definitive, and timely account of how the rise of eugenics helped America close the immigration door to “inferiors” in the 1920’s.

A forgotten, dark chapter of American history with implications for the current day, The Guarded Gate tells the story of the scientists who argued that certain nationalities were inherently inferior, providing the intellectual justification for the harshest immigration law in American history. Brandished by the upper class Bostonians and New Yorkers—many of them progressives—who led the anti-immigration movement, the eugenic arguments helped keep hundreds of thousands of Jews, Italians, and other unwanted groups out of the US for more than 40 years.

Over five years in the writing, The Guarded Gate tells the complete story from its beginning in 1895, when Henry Cabot Lodge and other Boston Brahmins launched their anti-immigrant campaign. In 1921, Vice President Calvin Coolidge declared that “biological laws” had proven the inferiority of southern and eastern Europeans; the restrictive law was enacted three years later. In his characteristic style, both lively and authoritative, Okrent brings to life the rich cast of characters from this time, including Lodge’s closest friend, Theodore Roosevelt; Charles Darwin’s first cousin, Francis Galton, the idiosyncratic polymath who gave life to eugenics; the fabulously wealthy and profoundly bigoted Madison Grant, founder of the Bronx Zoo, and his best friend, H. Fairfield Osborn, director of the American Museum of Natural History; Margaret Sanger, who saw eugenics as a sensible adjunct to her birth control campaign; and Maxwell Perkins, the celebrated editor of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. A work of history relevant for today, The Guarded Gate is an important, insightful tale that painstakingly connects the American eugenicists to the rise of Nazism, and shows how their beliefs found fertile soil in the minds of citizens and leaders both here and abroad. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “Our two oceans have protected and insulated us, but they have also helped to incubate less attractive features…This is a masterful, sobering, thoughtful, and necessary book.”

    Ken Burns, New York Times bestselling author and filmmaker

  • “The story of this triumph of ignorance has been told before, but never more vividly than by Daniel Okrent…A rigorously historical work.”

    Washington Post

  • “Daniel Okrent narrates his extensively researched work…Given the abundance of detail, Okrent’s comfortably relaxed pace is beneficial…Authors narrating their own works can be hit or miss, particularly with works of nonfiction, but, in this case, Okrent’s knowledge of the material and his presentation are assets to the production.”


  • “[An] often surprising history…The Guarded Gate is reminiscent of Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (2010) in its elegant…prose and its focus on the unlikely alliances that converged to effect political change.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Spellbinding history…Insightful, unsparing, and totally absorbing.”

    Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • A #1 bestseller in Administrative Law 
  • A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice of the Month

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About the Author

Daniel Okrent is author of four books, one of which, Great Fortune, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history. He was a featured commentator on Ken Burns’s PBS series Baseball. He was a fellow at the Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where he is an associate. He was the first public editor of the New York Times, an editor-at-large of Time, Inc., and managing editor of Life magazine. He also worked in book publishing as an editor at Knopf and Viking and was editor-in-chief of general books at Harcourt Brace.