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Paperback The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Book

ISBN: 1400052181

ISBN13: 8601400205570

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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Book Overview

HENRIETTA LACKS This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

8 ratings

One of the Books

"Deeply moved by 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.' Rebecca Skloot's exploration of Henrietta's impact on medical science is both fascinating and thought-provoking. This captivating narrative weaves together science, ethics, and the human story in a way that leaves a lasting impression. A must-read that sparks reflection on the intersection of medical progress and individual lives.

This book should be required reading in school instead of Shakespear because it is relevant to this

Unfortunately many Native Americans endured worse experiments on their bodies and no one writes about them. Hopefully Henriett's children will win their law suit against all the labs that have made billions off her cells since 1953 and still are.

Jaw dropping and eye opening

There's a lot to experience in this book. Infuriating abuse of patients, children trying to make sense of the loss of their mother, and the amazing way tissue samples can be used to advance medical science. We all stand to gain from tissue collection but what are we willing to give up? Where do we draw the line on privacy and human rights? Who is making money from the sale of your child's tonsillectomy? Was that recent blood test really necessary? What about that DNA test you took to "discover" your ancestry?

A True Heroine for Medical Science, but she and her family were never rewarded

Sensitive look into the negative effects of the medical community taking advantage of a poor, uneducated, ill woman. Interesting and easy to understand explanations of cells and cell lines.

Something every doctor and researcher should read

This is one of the most even handed reveiws of this topic I've read. Ms. Skloot's style is in the best narrative tradition. I literally hated to put the book down. It provides good insights into the poor relations that the biomedical industry has particularly with the African-American community and the tragedy that a loose attitude toward patient confidentiality and wishes can have. Yet her book is very even handed in discussing the damage that would occur if subject rights were asserted to the maximum. I take from this that it is high time that the research community address this in a proactive manner and develop a binding policy and statutory framework that makes clear the ground rules. I thank her for sharing such a powerful and touching story with all of us. Dr. Timothy Drevyanko, MD, MS

Thank you for this beautiful tribute to Henrietta Lacks

Wow. This book should be required reading for scientists and students of life. The true story of Henrietta Lacks and her family has finally been told, beautifully, in this book. The book encompasses science, ethics, and the story of a family who was terribly wronged in the pursuit of scientific research. I could gush about this book for pages but I'll try first to hit the main points of why this book is so remarkable in list form for the sake of brevity: 1. The author clearly developed a strong relationship with the Lacks family, which was absolutely critical to ensuring the story was told accurately and with the respect to Henrietta Lacks that was so deeply deserved. 2. The storytelling is amazingly moving despite the need to convey a lot of scientific information. It reads like fiction. 3. Ms. Skloot's research into the science is impeccable. 4. The book is FAIR. It presents the unvarnished truth, obtained DIRECTLY from as many prinicpal people involved in the story as is humanly possible. It would have been easier to simplify the story into heroes vs. villians, but Ms. Skloot deftly handles all sides of the story. For some detail: I have worked with HeLa cells in the past, but did not know even the barest information about the story of Henrietta Lacks until a few years ago. It simply was not common knowledge, until a few less ethical folks released her name and medical records to the public. This obviously should not have been done without the express permission of the Lacks family, which Ms. Skloot obtained. In the past, others have not been as ethical. The book covers Ms. Lacks' early life, how her cells came to be harvested, and what happened to both the cells and her family afterward. The contributions of HeLa cells to science are absolutely staggering and cannot be over-stated. The sections where the science was described were clear and accurate. With the story of Ms. Lacks' family interwoven, this book was fairly close to perfect. I found myself moved to tears several times because of the fate of the Lacks family and Henrietta's daughter's indomitable spirit. I do not think anyone but Ms. Skloot could have written this book. She worked with the family for over a decade in order to get the story right. This was critical, as the family had been wronged too many times in the past. Thank you for this astounding work of art. I will be donating to the Henrietta Lacks foundation in honor of the entire family, and I hope many others will read the book and be similarly moved.

Absolutely superb

Equal parts history, psychological drama, expose and character study, Rebecca Skloot's gripping debut is a deeply affecting tour de force that effortlessly bridges the gap between science and the mainstream. Her subject is the multilayered drama behind one of the most important--and in many ways, problematic--advances of modern medicine. Captivated by the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor African-American woman whose cervical cancer cells (dubbed HeLa) were the first immortalized cells grown in culture and became ubiquitous in laboratories around the world, Skloot set out to learn more about the person whose unwitting "donation" of the cells transformed biomedical research in the last century. Her research ultimately spanned a decade and found her navigating (and to some extent, mediating) more than 50 years of rage over the white scientific establishment's cavalier mistreatment and exploitation of the poor, especially African Americans. Skloot deftly weaves together an account of Lacks's short life (she died at age 31) and torturous death from an extremely aggressive form of cancer; the parallel narrative concerning her cells; and the sometimes harrowing, sometimes amusing chronicle of Skloots's own interactions with Lacks's surviving (and initially hostile and uncooperative) family members. Moving comfortably back and forth in time, the richly textured story that emerges brings into stark relief the human cost of scientific progress and leaves the reader grappling with many unanswered questions about the ethics of the scientific endeavor, past and present. While the goals of biomedical research may be noble, how they are achieved is not always honorable, particularly where commercialization of new technologies is at stake. Skloot offers a clear-eyed perspective, highlighting the brutal irony of a family whose matriarch was a pivotal figure in everything from the development of Jonas Salk's polio vaccine to AIDS research to cancer drugs, yet cannot afford the very medical care their mother's cells helped facilitate, with predictable consequences. The LA Times book review section named Skloot one of its four "Faces to Watch in 2010," an honor that, based on "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" is well-deserved. Five stars--it was hard to put down this compelling, admirable and eminently readable book.

2010 Non-Fiction Award Winner?

As I recall this book was categorized as CANCER, I believe it might be more aptly described as science based non-fiction. In the last two decades I've seen occasional news items alluding to human cells taken from a black woman in the 1950's that have been replicated millions of times. The cells are referred to as HeLa and on the face of it I wouldn't have thought there was much of a story behind the extraction of these cells and their use by the biomed industry. However, this book dispells that rather naive assumption completely and puts a name and a face, a family, and a story behind the contents of many petri dishes and slides. THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS explains how the cells were obtained, replicated, distributed, and used without informed consent of the owner and family by John Hopkins and how they benefitted mankind w/o compensation to the family. Author Skloot tells the story of a family victimized by socioeconomic conditions and racism that can't get fundamental things like health coverage while these cells make a lot of money for the health establishment. It is a disturbing read that will stay with the reader long after the book is finished. It may also make the reader take a long hard look at the need for standardized health care in our society among many other things. The one thing that I found fascinating about this book is how Skloot managed to take a generally dry topic that might have been addressed in a scientific textbook and humanized it on a very personal level by developing a close relationship with Henrietta's family. The input received from the family took this book to a higher level and made it a very personsl story. From my perspective, it was very hard not to get involved with the Lacks family and not feel their sense of betrayal and loss.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Mentions in Our Blog

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Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • June 25, 2023

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in Giving Thanks: 12 Books to Inspire Gratitude at Any Age
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Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • November 20, 2020

For many of us, 2020 has been a tough year. From the pandemic to natural disasters to divisive political battles, it has been one thing after another. Finding gratitude for the good things may feel harder than usual, but one thing that never fails to make us feel thankful is books!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in A Culture of Kindness
A Culture of Kindness
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • December 25, 2019

This can be a rough time of year for many. Grief, loneliness, and scarcity are among the reasons people may feel particularly isolated and sad during the holidays. It's an opportunity to reflect on these difficulties and how we can help. Here are twelve books that offer perspectives on empathy and awareness.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in 20 Must-Read Picks for Every Book Club
20 Must-Read Picks for Every Book Club
Published by Violet • July 31, 2019
Choosing a book for your book club to read can be challenging. You want books that are thought-provoking and intelligent but still approachable. To get you started, we've put together a list of 20 sure-fire conversation starters, ranging from the best contemporary literature to historical fiction, memoirs, and history.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in From Page to Screen
From Page to Screen
Published by Devin B. • April 24, 2017
With a slew of book adaptations from a variety of genres hitting the television screen this month, don’t miss out on your chance to compare the original books to their TV counterparts. We’ve also rounded up the latest film/TV announcements so you can get a head start.  
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