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This Author: David Plotz
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The Genius Factory by David Plotz

The Genius Factory

The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank

by David Plotz

Title Details

Abridged Edition
Running Time
4 Hrs. 53 Min.
User Rating
  3.0  Stars Based on 2 ratings


It was the most radical human-breeding experiment in American history, and no one knew how it turned out. The Repository for Germinal Choice, nicknamed the Nobel Prize sperm bank, opened to notorious fanfare in 1980, and for two decades, women flocked to it from all over the country to choose a sperm donor from its roster of Nobel-laureate scientists, mathematical prodigies, successful businessmen, and star athletes. But the bank quietly closed its doors in 1999; its founder dead, its confidential records sealed, and the fate of its children and donors unknown. In early 2001, award-winning columnist David Plotz set out to solve the mystery of the Nobel Prize sperm bank.

Crisscrossing the country and logging countless hours online, Plotz succeeded in tracking down previously unknown family members; teenage half-brothers who ended up following vastly different paths, mothers who had wondered for years about the identities of the donors they had selected on the basis of code names and brief character profiles, fathers who were proud or ashamed or simply curious about the children who had been created from their sperm samples.

The children of the "genius factory" are messengers from the future, a future that is bearing down on us fast. What will families be like when parents routinely "shop" for their kids' genes? What will children be like when they're programmed for greatness? In this stunning, eye-opening book, one of our finest young journalists previews America's coming age of genetic expectations.

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Reviews & Ratings
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A particularly poor rendering of a particularly important subject
Reviewer marindavid
 February 28, 2006
There have been short stories that, with the application of some creative imagination and creativity have been successfully transformed into feature-length films. The less successful attempts have resulted from films that simply ‘stretched’ the short story with extended screen shots, lengthy silences and empty (not plot-advancing) dialogue. It is the second example that is most akin to this book. This being the case, I will not dignify it with a lengthy review – but will, instead, come quickly and briefly to the point. This book is a deception – a title “The Genius Factory, etc …” – like a false front on a Hollywood set building. It might have been more accurately titled something like A Moderately Brief but Resoundingly Boring History of Attempts at Human Artificial Insemination: Both Successful and Unsuccessful.
The notion of “Eugenics” and it’s swollen popularity, for both humane and evil motives, in the early and mid 20th century is an interesting one and well worth study and reportage. Likewise, the efforts of “Dr.” Robert Graham (an Optometrist) to create a sperm bank contributed to only by Nobel Laureates in order to improve what he saw as the degenerating quality of the human species is, again, fascinating and perhaps even important. Sadly (and surprisingly) this book renders that issue in relatively brief form while dwelling for chapter after chapter on arguably related, but clearly less interesting, information about the history of human A.I. and the author’s subjective experiences in looking into (and ‘experiencing’ both it’s products and some of it’s required activities.
What began as a few magazine-type articles in “Slate” have been expanded here to Feature Length – but not by the addition of interesting and relevant new data – but by an expanded spewing of word, historical references, and personal irrelevancies.
I would estimate that no more than one-third of the text deal with the subject suggested by the title in a meaningful way. The rest is schlock filler.
If I could reclaim the hours I spend listening to this book (yes, I listened to the recorded version) I would.

More Details

  • Published: 2002
  • LearnOutLoud.com Product ID: T014764
Available On
Audio CD