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Books, Journals, New Media
January 23/30, 2002

GaltonA Life of Sir Francis Galton: From African Exploration to the Birth of Eugenics

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


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by Nicholas Wright Gillham, 397 pp, $30, ISBN 0-19-514365-5, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 2001.

JAMA. 2002;287(4):522. doi:10.1001/jama.287.4.522

This is the third biography of Francis Galton to be published, and a very good one it is too. The first was by one of Galton's early disciples, Karl Pearson, and is a monumental work of four volumes that has been a veritable mine of information about Galton for all subsequent writers. Unfortunately, the man himself seems to get buried in a mass of detail, letters, tables, figures, and extracts. The second biography, by Professor D. W. Forrest, a psychologist from Dublin, was published in 1974 and naturally concentrates on Galton's psychological studies, particularly his theories of unconscious thought processes (antedating Freud) and the meaning of word associations.

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