Review of Ewen & Ewen's Typecasting, Utne Reader, March-April, 2007
"African American soldiers before World War I 'showed an average mental age of ten' based on an 'intelligence' test requiring knowledge of card games, Becky Sharpe, ensilage, advertising jingles, and the most prominent industry of Gloucester. And the New York Sun once required job applicants to undergo personality assessments based on the shapes of their noggins, a practice Oliver Wendell Holmes called 'an attempt to estimate the money in the safe by the nobs on the outside.
"Typecasting isn't just a history of such stereotyping. The 555-page tome also is a disturbing collective biography of people who measured heads with calipers to determine the best and brightest, exhibited dark-skinned men in zoos with apes, cut open the skulls of criminals, organized state fair competitions awarding the "fittest families," and carried out compulsory sterilization. People, in othe words, bent on preventing 'the spread and multiplication of worthless members of society.'
"In capable prose, media historians Elizabeth and Stuart Ewen describe the way minstrel shows, films, thesaurus-making, criminal anthropology, and the Adam and Eve story developed or prolonged 'the notion that society was divided between those whose fertility should be encouraged and those whose hereditary lineage called for curtailment.'
"The authors make it clear that the 'eugenic' policies of Nazi Germany were inspired by practices started in the United States. Less explicitly, but no less significantly, they describe the historical roots of contemporary social control and practices such as racial and ethnic profiling, mug shots, fingerprinting, identity cards, and databases."