What is it about?

This is my review of Jan Walmsley and Simon Jarretts 's 2019 book 'Intellectual Disability in the Twentieth Century: Transnational perspectives on people, policy and practice. It shares my thoughts and opinions on this important book which delivers a collection of historical narratives from a diverse range of countries and uses life stories to explore the impact of social policy on the lives and experiences of intellectually disabled people and their families.

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Why is it important?

The history of intellectual disability is a neglected area of scholarship. This book uses life stories to bring it to life, it gives the words a heartbeat and provides a glimmer of insight into the lives of intellectually disabled people during the twentieth century. I was unaware of the extent of the abhorrent treatment of disabled people over the years and this book raised my awareness of this greatly. This review shares my emotional journey as I travelled back in time, through different countries, hearing the influence of social policy on public discourse and how this was felt by intellectually disabled people and their families.


I review this book from my perspective as a women, the mother of autistic children and a PhD student researching how women describe the experiences being a mother of autistic children.

Juliet Hall
University of Plymouth

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Intellectual disability in the twentieth century: Transnational perspectives on people, policy and practice. By JanWalmsley and SimonJarrett, (Eds.), Bristol: Policy Press. 2019. 224 pages. £26.99 (pbk); £79.99 (hcv); £26.99 (ebk). ISBN 978‐1447344599, Sociology of Health & Illness, October 2022, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.13565.
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