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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Cover

ISBN13: 9781400052189
ISBN10: 1400052181
Condition: Standard
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Stefan Poulos, October 21, 2014 (view all comments by Stefan Poulos)
very good book, great american history! hope they made a movie! =)
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pickfordm, August 6, 2014 (view all comments by pickfordm)
Except when I read for research purposes, I generally settle down with a book of fiction. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, though nonfiction, captured my interest because of the rave reviews and fascinating press it generated, and I quickly picked up a copy of the hardcover edition when the book came out last year. I found that it lived up to all the hype. It's an intelligent, interesting book which reads as fluidly as good fiction, vividly fleshes out real life characters with poignance and compassion, and also provides a clear-eyed description of the socio-economic inequities that plague our system. As for the science, I'm sure most of it is way (way!) over my head. However, unlike some academics, whose writing is indecipherable to all but their fellow experts, Skloot writes clearly and effectively about the importance of Ms. Lacks' immortal cells. Even though we may not "get" all the science, we understand the gist of what the author tells us, and certainly grasp its importance. She also seamlessly weaves into her book the history of medical research, and of issues like informed consent.

I also admire the way that Skloot puts herself, and her journey, into the narrative. Her relationship with Henrietta's troubled but gentle-spirited daughter was, for me, one of the most moving parts of the narrative. At the end of the book, you find that Skloot has established a scholarship fund for Henrietta Lacks' grandchildren, who remain impoverished despite the billions of dollars that have been made from their grandmother's cells. I definitely intend to visit the website and make a contribution, and I'm sure many other readers will do the same after reading this book.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
jenmariestone, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by jenmariestone)
This was a wonderful read. The intersection of family, history, ethics, science, and journalism create an inspiring web that illuminates the intricate connections between ideas and people.
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(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
Ann Marie Magill, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Ann Marie Magill)
Gripping account of a woman whose cancerous cells, without the knowledge of her or her family, were used to profit science and industry. Skloot does her research, gets to know the family intimately, lays out the history of cell research, touches on the history of civil rights and medical exploitation of the poor, all with an expert writer's hand.
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Skippy99, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Skippy99)
A great read - even the biology descriptions are fascinating - and a glimpse into a family's fearful, thrilling, heartbreaking and at times, joyful search for the truth about their mother's illness and treatment.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
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Skloot, Rebecca
Health and Medicine-History of Medicine
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Trade paper
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8 x 5.2 x 1 in 0.95 lb

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Used Trade Paper
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Product details 400 pages Broadway - English 9781400052189 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

This is an absolutely fascinating account of a line of cells that would proliferate to such a degree that they became immortal. Shaved from a tumor in a poor black woman in the 1950s, cultured without her knowledge, and grown to amazing proportions, HeLa cells would change the face of science and medicine forever. Pivotal in the search for disease obliteration, HeLa would prove invaluable because it simply would not die. Yet, Henrietta Lacks did die, in pain and obscurity, and her family knew nothing of her living cells. Posing some very serious questions ranging from tissue ownership to the billion dollar pharmaceutical industry to the mad rush for the elusive cure for cancer to the impossible cost of health insurance, Skloot has done an admirable job of research here. Ironically, Henrietta's story, if read in a novel, would seem ridiculously fantastical. Yet she lived — and her cells still do. Her story is unforgettable. 

"Review A Day" by , "Henrietta Lacks, a poor married, African American mother of five, died at 31 in Baltimore from a vicious form of cervical cancer. During her treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital and after her death there in 1951, researchers harvested some of her tumor cells. This wasn't unusual. Though Lacks consented to treatment, no one asked permission to take her cells; the era's scientists considered it fair to conduct research on patients in public wards since they were being treated for free. What was unusual was what happened next." (read the entire Ms. review)
"Review" by , "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a fascinating read and a ringing success. It is a well-written, carefully-researched, complex saga of medical research, bioethics, and race in America. Above all it is a human story of redemption for a family, torn by loss, and for a writer with a vision that would not let go."
"Review" by , "Skloot's vivid account begins with the life of Henrietta Lacks, who comes fully alive on the page...Immortal Life reads like a novel."
"Review" by , "Riveting...raises important questions about medical ethics...It's an amazing story...Deeply chilling... Whether those uncountable HeLa cells are a miracle or a violation, Skloot tells their fascinating story at last with skill, insight and compassion."
"Review" by , "This is exactly the sort of story that books were made to tell — thorough, detailed, quietly passionate, and full of revelation."
"Review" by , "Skloot tells a truly astonishing story of racism and poverty, science and conscience, spirituality and family driven by a galvanizing inquiry into the sanctity of the body and the very nature of the life force."
"Synopsis" by , Skloot brilliantly weaves together the story of Henrietta Lacks — a woman whose cells have been unwittingly used for scientific research since the 1950s — with the birth of bioethics, and the dark history of experimentation on African Americans.
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