The novel by Jonathan Freedland - written under the pseudonym Sam Bourne – Pantheon, is set in the Oxford and Yale of 1940. It follows an Oxford academic deemed unfit to serve in the war against Germany and his desperate search to find his missing wife and child. The story turns, however, on what could be called the dirty little secret of the Anglo-American intellectual elite – the attraction of some of the greatest minds of the 20th century, from Bertrand Russell to George Bernard Shaw and John Maynard Keynes, towards an idea that would now be deemed horribly close to Nazism. That idea is eugenics. In conversation with James Purnell, Jonathan discussed why so many luminaries, especially on the left, were drawn to the notion of breeding a better class of man – and what the legacy of that past might mean for today.
Jonathan Freedland writes a weekly column for The Guardian. He is also a regular contributor to the New York Times and the New York Review of Books and presents BBC Radio 4's contemporary history series The Long View. He was named Columnist of the Year in the 2002 and writes thrillers under the nom de plume of Sam Bourne.
David Aaronovitch is a writer, broadcaster and commentator on culture, international affairs, politics and the media. His first book Paddling to Jerusalem won the Madoc Prize for travel writing. In 2009 he published Voodoo Histories.
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