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"The Guarded Gate" By Daniel Okrent


Note: This is an encore edition of our program. The original episode aired July 2020.

Daniel Okrent’s The Guarded Gate tells the chilling story of how anti-immigration activists of the early twentieth century — most of them well-born, many of them progressives — used the bogus science of eugenics to justify closing the immigration door in 1924.

Named one of the “100 Notable Books of the Year” by the New York Times Book Review, The Guarded Gate features a cast of characters ranging from Theodore Roosevelt to Henry Cabot Lodge.  In the process, it brings to life the three-decade campaign that made xenophobia respectable, and then enshrined it in federal law for more than 40 years.

Among his many jobs in publishing, Daniel Okrent was corporate editor-at-large at Time Inc., and was the first public editor of The New York Times.  In addition to The Guarded Gate, his books include Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, and Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center, which was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history.