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Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and Its Legacy (The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture) 1st Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807833100
ISBN-10: 080783310X
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Editorial Reviews


Blends [Reverby's] rich insights as a noted historian and public intellectual. . . . America's historians and medical community will benefit greatly from reading Examining Tuskegee.--Journal of American History

Strenuously researched and duly accessible.--African American Review

A vitally important contribution to the literature surrounding the study. . . . Highly recommended.--Choice

An essential historical framework of public health ethics.--Health Affairs

This in-depth and comprehensive approach, by exploring the aftermath of the Tuskegee Study, distinguishes it from other writings on this topic. . . . The best presentation, thus far, of how race, medicine and research have intersected as a consequence of this convoluted Tuskegee Syphilis Study.--The Journal of the National Medical Association

Reverby offers us a complete description as well as an excellent analysis of this scandalous episode in the history of biomedical research.--Social History of Medicine

Examining Tuskegee demonstrates in sober and convincing detail the various ways in which the Study was both ethically and scientifically corrupt.--Society

Reverby has constructed an essential historical framework of public health ethics. . . . [An] expansive yet detailed account. . . [A] magnificent contribution in examining [Tuskegee's] enduring hold on U.S. cultural life.--Health Affairs

In less competent hands, the attempt to unravel the complexities of Tuskegee would have merely replaced one entanglement with another. However, Reverby's knowledge and skill are evident on virtually every page. Written in a clear and engaging style buttressed by convincing and exhaustive research, this book is likely to remain the essential monograph on the subject for years to come.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

A masterful and comprehensive historical analysis. . . . A powerful story told in a powerful way. . . . Cogently illuminates the many narratives comprising this horrific chapter in our country's history. . . . This book, impressive in its scope and depth, contributes greatly to our understanding of not just the events described but also of racial and social injustice in general.--Nursing History Review

Examining Tuskegee is richly immersed in the zeitgeist of twentieth-century African American life. . . . Reverby's text is strenuously researched and duly accessible." --African American Review

[Reverby's] deep reanalysis of one of the most controversial and popularly misunderstood narratives of twentieth-century biomedicine accomplishes several vital new purposes and provides a comprehensive update on the study's legacy.--Journal of Southern History

A masterful and comprehensive historical analysis of an egregious example of medical research malfeasance. . . . Excellent scholarship . . . compelling and thought provoking.--Nursing History Review

[A] thorough account." --The Alabama Review

A most readable, thoughtful, provocative new look at the [Tuskegee Syphilis Study]. . . . Reverby presents the study without formally retelling the story, instead allowing the readers to see events through the eyes of the parties involved. . . . Examining Tuskegee is an apt title. . . . Even those who 'know' Tuskegee will learn from this book.--North Carolina Historical Review


Reverby's energy, passion, insight, intelligence, industry, and originality shine through on every page. She has made a stunning contribution to our understanding of an important and tragic chapter of our history.--James H. Jones, author of Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

Examining Tuskegee places the 'Tuskegee Study' in a historical perspective that brings new meaning and insight to the issue in a way that will add to the already meaningful contribution that revisiting this study has made.--David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., 16th Surgeon General of the United States


Product Details

  • Series: The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (November 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080783310X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807833100
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #954,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"When the study ended, the stories began," writes historian Susan M. Reverby. In The Infamous Syphilis Study and its Legacy: Examining Tuskegee, Reverby investigates the notorious `Tuskegee Syphilis Study' as a site of collective memory and public contention. She presents the Study as an example of how assumptions about race may fill the inherent messy uncertainty of the medical field, and as an example of storytelling's great power in forming historical narrative.

Through an atypical narrative structure--Reverby has divided the work into three sections, "Testimony," "Testifying," and "Traveling," into which different "types" of historical perspective on the Study are presented--the nature of history and how it is written and composed by the `official hand' may be seen and examined. Reverby does an excellent job framing this story as prescient to contemporary readers. Reverby writes, "There is a socioeconomic and political context to the history making and storytelling, which changes over time."

In many ways, this work is cutting-edge. It deals with the reader's sense of ethics (what will we do with this knowledge?) and, in a very thought-provoking way, asks us to question our notions of "official history" and to think about who is written into it. Reverby's work is a fascinating look at a calamitous period in United States medical and social history. It begs us to understand: there is an often muted narrative of scientific progress in our country; it has been fraught with the darkest forms of exploitation.

I would recommend this book to anyone involved in the medical field or considering involvement in the medical field, particularly in the United States. This is an important story to (try to) understand, both to get at complexities in contemporary racisms and to understand the untold history of the medical field.
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Format: Hardcover
Reverby skillfully incorporates a variety of perspectives in order to give the reader a broad and complete understanding of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Through these perspectives, Reverby is able to explore the factors that allowed the Study to begin, the reasons why it continued for four decades, and the lingering effects on the individuals and families involved with the Study, African American communities, and the medical field. The use of personal narratives within the book kept me engaged and allowed me to feel more empathetic towards the men who were exploited through the Study.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted a comprehensive understanding of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study or to anyone who wanted a new perspective on the treatment of African Americans within the medical field. By reading this book, I not only learned about the past, but also was able to better understand some of the current reasons for health disparity among African American populations.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although I had heard about the Tuskegee studies prior to reading this book, Reverby's Examining Tuskegee revealed how superficially I understood this prominent event in both medical and African-American history. The author introduces many avenues of complexity into the history and aftermath of the study and pushes readers to constantly challenge their understanding of the societal and cultural implications of the Tuskegee study. Throughout the book, she expertly guides the reader in an exploration of where the blame lies in the twisted history of the study. While the writing was a bit dry at some points, the author clearly and effectively relayed a complete exploration of the study without the information being too overwhelming. Examining Tuskegee is a crucial read for anyone interested in the relationship between race and the healthcare system in both a historical and present-day context.
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Format: Hardcover
Susan Reverby's book centers around the repetitive motif of African-American history in which black citizens have received dangerous, subpar or simply unjust "treatments" validated by the fact that without such therapies, these individuals would garner no care at all. Examining Tuskegee thoroughly unveils the political, social and economic factors affecting the history of the famous but often inaccurately portrayed syphilis study. Reverby's writing serves to captivatingly correct misconceptions, while providing new and surprising insight into the tragedies that occurred in Tuskegee and initiate questions on how such conditions could be repeated today in national efforts to advance science.

For a graphic interpretation of this subject, I would suggest the 1997 HBO television film, Miss Evers' Boys
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very in depth research, and clearly written. As a non-historian reader at times I feel that there is too much detail, but for historians it is nice to have this information compiled in one location. The Tuskegee Syphilis study is a horrible story of whites taking advantage of blacks (1932-1972), made even more horrible by the terrible sloppiness of the science, so we can't even tell what we may have learned from the study.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A balanced a new look at one of the most horrific research misadventures in the USA. The topic i relevant to anyone with interest in biomedical, sociological, healthcare or political issues. The sentiments expressed in this book remains timely as we consider why there are disparities in research participation today.
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