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In a series of scholarly but highly readable essays, this book opens discussion on the role of disabled people in American history. It also examines how history has been affected by perceptions of disability. For example, one article looks at the ways disability has been used to strengthen prejudice against particular ethnic groups and to justify discrimination - "experts" have often claimed that one or another group of immigrants is genetically inferior and prone to mental retardation or physical frailty. One essay is based on the Civil War letters of a deaf man to his family. Another looks at the ways Helen Keller's Socialist beliefs were stifled by those around her.
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