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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by…
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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (edition 2011)

by Rebecca Skloot

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,339448619 (4.15)2 / 655
Member:misskatiamay
Title:The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Authors:Rebecca Skloot
Info:Broadway (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Medicine, Hx, biography

Work details

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Recently added byDaffydownd1lly, private library, helices, darcy36, MCHBurke, Glire, HsLbry6441BVDr, mc100, furball22
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  3. 62
    Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (VenusofUrbino)
    VenusofUrbino: If you like well-researched and well-written non-fiction like "Immortal Life" then you will also appreciate Mary Roach.
  4. 40
    The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson (bunnygirl)
    bunnygirl: personal history and stories linked with the larger African American history. if you were wondering about Skloot's reference to the Lacks family being part of the Great Migration, this book explains exactly what it is and tells the stories of three families in a similar manner.… (more)
  5. 40
    A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (krazy4katz)
    krazy4katz: Reading "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," I was pained by the impoverished lives of people who still lived on plantations in the 1940s - lack of schooling, lack of health care, lack of any kind of decent housing etc. "A Lesson Before Dying" more directly addresses the life of people still living on plantations in the '40s. Even though I sort of knew this, it was an emotional shock to truly recognize that all the abuse and oppression did not end with the Civil War but was still there 80 years later.… (more)
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    LeesyLou: If you have an interest in the social and personal ethics and background of medical care, this adds to your understanding. Minority cultures and personal medical ethics are equally poorly understood by many practitioners.
  11. 10
    Life Itself: Exploring the Realm of the Living Cell by Boyce Rensberger (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Cell cultures are being used to study diseases as well as cure them. Learn about the cell cultures called 'HeLa' in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and read about cell cultures' utility as a whole in Life Itself.
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English (444)  German (1)  Japanese (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (448)
Showing 1-5 of 444 (next | show all)
This is the true story of the woman whose cells form the very foundation of much current medical knowledge. As a librarian and a lifelong reader, I heard much about it, but didn't think I would find it interesting. When it showed up on a cart outside my office I decided to give it a try and was pleasantly surprised.

A balanced mix of science and family, of medicine and faith and belief, it's a great story of a people, of what happened, and didn't happen, to Henrietta Lacks and to her family, and what science, and private enterprise, owes people. ( )
  JeanetteSkwor | Jun 22, 2014 |
What an interesting book that shows the human side of science. ( )
  INorris | Jun 22, 2014 |
Anyone with a future in biotechnology should read this book. It's important to know where the tools of your trade come from and to not dehumanize the contributions of the common folk.

The story of the Lacks family is sad, typical and yet uplifting. Their ignorance about science and their pride for their mother are intermixed with the apathy of the doctors and scientists who don't give them the time of day. ( )
  wrysosrs | Jun 19, 2014 |
This is a brilliant book. When I was studying biology at school, I was fascinated by DNA and cell research, but I had never heard of HeLa or Henrietta Lacks. Skloot makes a complicated scientific subject accessible and brings a depth of humanity to the story rarely encountered in science or history texts. The exploration of tissue research, informed consent and commercialisation of cell research is very interesting and well explained. The thing that lifts this book beyond mere popular science, though, is the sensitivity Skloot shows towards Henrietta Lacks' family, who did not know what had happened to their mother or that her cells, harvested during a treatment for cervical cancer without permission (because she was poor and black, and because doctors didn't ask permission in the 1950s), formed the basis for all future cell research and led to vaccines for Polio and HPV and treatments for HIV. The family continues to be poor, unable to afford healthcare, while pharmaceutical companies make millions of dollars from the HeLa cells. Skloot's research, though, has had a positive effect in inspiring the youngest generations to stay in education and enter the world of science. And Henrietta Lacks' legacy has been recognised at last. ( )
  missizicks | Jun 14, 2014 |
Loved it! I've worked with HeLa cells in the past, but never knew any of this. The science is there along with the personal stories of Henrietta Lacks and her family. But even more interesting to me were the discussions of medical and scientific ethics and government regulation.
  MartyBriggs | Jun 11, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 444 (next | show all)
Skloot narrates the science lucidly, tracks the racial politics of medicine thoughtfully and tells the Lacks family’s often painful history with grace. She also confronts the spookiness of the cells themselves, intrepidly crossing into the spiritual plane on which the family has come to understand their mother’s continued presence in the world. Science writing is often just about “the facts.” ­Skloot’s book, her first, is far deeper, braver and more wonderful.
 
I put down Rebecca Skloot’s first book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” more than once. Ten times, probably. Once to poke the fire. Once to silence a pinging BlackBerry. And eight times to chase my wife and assorted visitors around the house, to tell them I was holding one of the most graceful and moving nonfiction books I’ve read in a very long time.
 
Writing with a novelist's artistry, a biologist's expertise, and the zeal of an investigative reporter, Skloot tells a truly astonishing story of racism and poverty, science and conscience, spirituality and family, all driven by a galvanizing inquiry into the sanctity of the body and the very nature of the life force.
added by sduff222 | editBooklist, Donna Seaman (Dec 1, 2009)
 
Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer in a “colored” hospital ward in Baltimore in 1951. She would have gone forever unnoticed by the outside world if not for the dime-sized slice of her tumor sent to a lab for research eight months earlier. ...
Skloot, a science writer, has been fascinated with Lacks since she first took a biology class at age 16. As she went on to earn a degree in the subject, she yearned to know more about the woman, anonymous for years, who was responsible for those ubiquitous cells....
 
Skloot tells a rich, resonant tale of modern science, the wonders it can perform and how easily it can exploit society's most vulnerable people.
added by Shortride | editPublishers Weekly
 

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rebecca Sklootprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Acedo, Sara R.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Campbell, CassandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grip, GöranTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Townsend, MandaPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turpin, BahniNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
We must not see any person as an abstraction.
Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets,
with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish,
and with some measure of triumph.

----Elie Wiesel
from The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code
Dedication
For my family:

My parents, Betsy and Floyd; their spouses, Terry and Beverly;
my brother and sister-in-law, Matt and Renee;
and my wonderful nephews, Nick and Justin.
They all did without me for far too long because of this book,
but never stopped believing in it, or me.

And in loving memory of my grandfather,
James Robert Lee (1912-2003),
who treasured books more than anyone I've known.
First words
On January 29, 1951, David Lacks sat behind the wheel of his old Buick, watching the rain fall.
Quotations
...But I always have thought it was strange, if our mother cells done so much for medicine, how come her family can't afford to see no doctors? Don't make no sense. People got rich off my mother without us even knowin about them takin her cells, now we don't get a dime. I used to get so mad about that to where it made me sick and I had to take pills. But I don't got it in me no more to fight. I just want to know who my mother was.
----Deborah Lacks
When I tell people the story of Henrietta Lacks and her cells, the first question is usually Wasn't it illegal for doctors to take Henrietta's cells without her knowledge? Don't doctors have to tell you when they use your cells in research? The answer is no--not in 1951, and not in 2009, when this book went to press.
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Wikipedia in English (5)

Book description
Non-fiction. This book is a memoir, a biography, a human interest story w/ racial, legal & moral issues. Covers the journey of the HeLa cells.
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No descriptions found.

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer and viruses; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks is buried in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. The story of the Lacks family is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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