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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot
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Rating this feels odd. I was torn about Skoot's depiction of Deborah at points. Sometimes I think it is okay to omit certain aspects of a story, such as a person going back and forth, or someone's reading level, if only to preserve their dignity and focus the story. Despite this, the content of this book is important, and was a worthy read. I definitely want to explore more about how medical and biological studies have comes about.
Outstanding in all ways. A true story written by a talented journalist which unlike most, is illuminating even for those not interested in genetics or healthcare research. Not only is it educational but it gives us great insight into what's possible and how mistreated patients are at the expense of billion dollar healthcare companies and hospitals.
Superb science-history reporting! I loved her writing style and was really impressed by her thoroughness.
Once I started reading this book I didn't want to stop. It was engrossing, nicely tied together the history of the Lacks family with the history of the HeLa cells research, and the history of the ethical considerations of using individuals' tissue and call samples for research without their consent. I wasn't expecting to like this book as much as I did, and was completely not expecting the book to be as engaging and alive as it was. This story could have been very dry but Skloot ensured it wasn't by bringing Henrietta (and her family) to life, and by including herself in the book's narrative. Awesome.
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.
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.
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Wikipedia in English (5)
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.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)616.02774092Technology and Application of Knowledge Medicine and health Diseases Pathology; Diseases; Treatment First aid; Emergency; Euthanasia Stem cells
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For the book itself , I would have liked it to be more science than history even though the part about Henrietta family was fun too but I hated the history part .
The book is solid four stars . Mostly enjoyed it but some chapters were boring . ( )