Fatal Invention

How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century

Hailed as “essential reading” by Danny Glover and “a triumph” by Harriet Washington, a groundbreaking critique of the new eugenics, by the award-winning author of Killing the Black Body

“This is the best book of the year. . . . If you read one work of nonfiction a year, make it this one.” —The New York Journal of Books

This groundbreaking book by the acclaimed Dorothy Roberts examines how the myth of the biological concept of race continues to undermine a just society and reproduce inequality.

Commercial genetic testing reinforces the idea that genes map neatly onto race, all while generating massive stores of data in DNA databases. Race-specific drugs are hailed as steps toward personalized, patient-responsive medicine. Facial recognition technologies using machine learning claim it possible to estimate a racialized criminal phenotype.

Roberts argues that this new racial science threatens to re-solidify a monstrous fiction, one that rather than solving the complex problems facing our stratified society will instead cement them for years to come. Fatal Invention is “[a] herculean effort in fleshing out the biopolitics of race” (Biopolitical Times) from one of the nation’s leading legal scholars and social critics.


Fatal Invention is a triumph!”
—Harriet A. Washington, author of Medical Apartheid and Deadly Monopolies
“Devastatingly counters any argument that can be made for a racial view of genetics.”
The Brooklyn Rail
“A major, groundbreaking assessment of race and bioethics.”
Midwest Book Review
“Thought-provoking, well-researched, [and] insightful.”
“This is the best book of the year. . . . If you read one work of nonfiction a year, make this the one.”
The New York Journal of Books
“This book meets an urgent need. . . . [A] herculean effort in fleshing out the biopolitics of race.”
Biopolitical Times
“[Roberts] dismantles the reasons for using race to determine health policy and exposes how embedded social assumptions can shape medicine’s research agenda and distort science.”
Ms. Magazine
—Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, author of Racism Without Racists
“A must-read for those looking for an enlightened discussion of race in the 21st century.”
Library Journal

Goodreads Reviews