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Experimenting with Humans and Animals: From Galen to Animal Rights Hardcover – June 15, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


"An excellent survey of human experimentation on both humans and animals. Her attention to interactions between experimenters and the societies in which they live offers a valuable sociohistorical context for understanding today's ethical debates over cloning, genetic engineering, and the breeding of animals to supply human body parts... A fine interdisciplinary work." -- Choice

"Anyone who has been frustrated by the lack of a general undergraduate text on the history of human and animal experimentation will be pleased to discover Anita Guerrini's book..her book will be essential to beginning students in the history of biology and medicine, to anyone interested in the historical development of human-animal relationships or the history of animal welfare, and to practicing biologists, in particular physiologists, who wish to understand both historic and current debates about the use of animals in the laboratory." -- Elizabeth Hanson, Journal of the History of Biology

"Unique, succinct, and informative... It is rare to mix the stories of animal and human research together, and this joint history has been little understood and appreciated among even modern day discussants... The history is well drawn and accurate. Inserts illustrating important historical documents provide a feel of the times and thinking under discussion. The mixture of history and ethics makes this appropriate both for mentors and young Martin Arrowsmiths." -- John P. Gluck, Journal of the American Medical Association

"Within its confines, the author presented a balanced review of historical highlights (perhaps also lowlifes depending on perspective) surrounding animal and human vivisection and use in research... This was a great read and I recommend it to all." -- Mark Klinger, Laboratory Animal Practitioner

"A compelling and engaging account of the ways experiments have been conducted on animals and humans from the time of Galen to the present. [Guerrini's] book is crucial not only for understanding the changing value placed on experiments over time but also because it invaluable deepens our knowledge of the history of medicine." -- Journal of the History of Medicine

"The selected historical episodes involve individuals who are so eccentric... and experiments that are so shocking... that Guerrini's book reads like a work of historical fiction and, in turn, is highly engaging. This, or course, is not to be understood as a challenge to the work's historical veracity; rather, it is to be understood as a tribute to the captivating nature of the subject matter as well as the way in which that subject matter is presented... one cannot help but find Experimenting to be highly engaging... But being engaging isn't the book's only virtue. It also reminds us of and underscores a number of important issues closely tied to the contemporary debate on human and nonhuman animal experimentation... Guerrini's highly engaging, informative treatment on the history of the Western world's experimentation with humans and nonhuman animals is strongly recommended." -- Robert P. Lovering, Medical Humanities Review

"Unique, succinct, and informative book... the history is well drawn and accurate... The mixture of history and ethics makes the book appropriate both for mentors and young Martin Arrowsmiths." -- John P. Gluck, PhD, JAMA

"Guerrini does a fine job of putting the anatomy and physiology studies of Galen, Harvey and Vesalius, and the vaccination work of Jenner, Pasteur, Koch and Salk in historical context." -- George J. Annas, Nature Medicine

"Well-written, highly accessible, and highlighting the major trends, events, and people in the history of Western medicine, experimental biology, and physiology, Experimenting with Humans and Animals is an excellent introductory text in the history of science or medicine." -- Dominique A. Tobbell, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"A fascinating tour through the history of animal experimentation, with reference to human experimentation for perspective." -- Norman M. Goldfarb, Journal of Clinical Research Best Practices


"This book offers a cogently argued and impressively written history of human and animal experimentation since antiquity that explores with grace and sensitivity the philosophical, ethical and social issues raised by research on living creatures." -- Susan E. Lederer, Ph.D., Yale University School of Medicine

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Product Details

  • Series: Johns Hopkins Introductory Studies in the History of Science
  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press (June 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801871964
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801871962
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,609,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Larry Carbone on November 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
Written for a general audience with no science training, Anita Guerrini's Experimenting with Humans and Animals is a fascinating read. It's a well-written and thoroughly readable primer on some of the important scientific advances of Western science and medicine, and the role of experiments on humans and animals, over the past centuries. Guerrini is a professional historian who has also chaired her campus' Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

The book spans 2,284 years and both human and animal experimentation in just 160 pages. Guerrini talks not just about the ethics of using animal and human subjects, but also how scientific reasoning and knowledge have evolved over the years; it's a lot of ground to cover. Further, she tries to write of past events in light of then-current moral standards and then-current scientific knowledge.

Guerrini's strategy is to highlight a few exemplary case studies and then examine them in detail. Starting with Herophilus' permission from the king of Alexandria to dissect a living human criminal, she discusses the ancients' scientific debates about the value of post-mortem dissection versus living vivisection, and of the value of comparative (i.e. animal-based) work. She gives an in-depth review of Descartes and his influence, and of the 19th century tensions between the English (mostly opposed to animal experimentation) and the French physiologists (Magendie, Bernard) developing an animal-based research methodology.

Guerrini's discussions of immunology and vaccine development are particularly fascinating. She discusses both the early days of smallpox, rabies and diphtheria immunizations, before much of current immunology was known, and devotes a chapter to the development of polio vaccines.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Rick Bogle on February 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Experimenting with Humans and Animals will appeal to a couple of different audiences. Instructors wanting a basic brief overview of its subject matter may find it useful. Experimenting will be of interest to observers of the animal rights debate and the discussion specific to vivisection. The text is not without bias or error, but I found it of interest.
The author teaches a university class on the book's topic and is a past Chair of the University of California, Santa Barbara's animal care and use committee. Such committees are required by law; their purpose is to assure that research at their institution complies with federal regulation. Only a handful of proponents from within the industry have written overviews of the history of vivisection or defenses of the practice.
If read fairly and carefully the message of the book seems to be: We suck. Guerrinni begins with the assertion: "My argument is that the values of science are the values of the society it inhabits." She then recounts instances of animal and human experimentation over the past 2300 years. We learn that rarely has there been a time when someone wasn't cutting up some hapless dog or experimenting on a retarded orphan. Over time, the number of victims has skyrocketed. A few people have spoken up about this cruelty on occasion, but society has consistently swept their concerns aside. The text makes it clear (perhaps unintentionally) that societal values in this area are essentially unchanged today from what they have always been.
Experimenting is filled with tension. Guerrinni acknowledges that vivisection has caused much pain, but urges us to see vivisectors as actors embedded in unique periods of time with moral values appropriate to those times. For instance, she writes: "Galen [c.a. 200 C.E.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BG on January 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Our library ordered this book and I read it over the Christmas break. It was fascinating and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in research in general or the advancement of science. It is difficult to imagine a world were pain was pervasive and death all around us. Animals were not our companions, but were used by us humans. Of course there are examples, like Bucefalo - Alexander the Great's horse - of animals that were loved and treated with respect and dignity, but then again, at that time another human being - a slave - could mean nothing. I don't think the author makes a case for vivisectionism, but explains very well the historical circumstances of every epoch. For me, personally, the question is: will I be willing to inflict such pain and horror or be an accomplice, albeit silent, in order to learn how the body works? How could you find out that nerves that originate from the spinal cord are responsible for sending signals to the leg by observing a cadaver? It cannot be done unless the subject is kept alive, the damage done and then the result is observed. Imagine doing that before anesthesia was discovered/invented! Those are the kinds of things you will find in this book. It is disturbing, but it makes you think and question your own position regarding animal and human experimentation, consent, etc. It is easier to say now that we don't want to do what the people described in the book did, but the reality is that we know what we know because they came before us. Is the price for certain knowledge too high? Do we know enough already, so that if the only way to learn about certain processes is by horrible experimentation, we'd rather not learn? (Think brain processing, for example) Those are the kinds of questions that might pop up if you read this book. In addition, it has very nice figures and old diagrams, though the print in some of them was too small.
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