|Amazon Price||New from||Used from|
Honestly, I can't imagine a better tale.
A detective story that's at once mythically large and painfully intimate.
Just the simple facts are hard to believe: that in 1951, a poor black woman named Henrietta Lacks dies of cervical cancer, but pieces of the tumor that killed her--taken without her knowledge or consent--live on, first in one lab, then in hundreds, then thousands, then in giant factories churning out polio vaccines, then aboard rocket ships launched into space. The cells from this one tumor would spawn a multi-billion dollar industry and become a foundation of modern science--leading to breakthroughs in gene mapping, cloning and fertility and helping to discover how viruses work and how cancer develops (among a million other things). All of which is to say: the science end of this story is enough to blow one's mind right out of one's face.
But what's truly remarkable about Rebecca Skloot's book is that we also get the rest of the story, the part that could have easily remained hidden had she not spent ten years unearthing it: Who was Henrietta Lacks? How did she live? How she did die? Did her family know that she'd become, in some sense, immortal, and how did that affect them? These are crucial questions, because science should never forget the people who gave it life. And so, what unfolds is not only a reporting tour de force but also a very entertaining account of Henrietta, her ancestors, her cells and the scientists who grew them.
The book ultimately channels its journey of discovery though Henrietta's youngest daughter, Deborah, who never knew her mother, and who dreamt of one day being a scientist.
As Deborah Lacks and Skloot search for answers, we're bounced effortlessly from the tiny tobacco-farming Virginia hamlet of Henrietta's childhood to modern-day Baltimore, where Henrietta's family remains. Along the way, a series of unforgettable juxtapositions: cell culturing bumps into faith healings, cutting edge medicine collides with the dark truth that Henrietta's family can't afford the health insurance to care for diseases their mother's cells have helped to cure.
Rebecca Skloot tells the story with great sensitivity, urgency and, in the end, damn fine writing. I highly recommend this book. --Jad Abumrad
Click on thumbnails for larger images
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I work for a major laboratory in the IT department. Reading about the early days of lab testing was very interesting. Read morePublished 3 hours ago by L. Baldwin
So much research has gone into this book, and the writing style made science read like a novel. The book brings up more questions than answers, but definitely food for thought.Published 18 hours ago by Teresa J Payne
Jumps around like many novels but that's Okay.For most
Prefer outline form.A very good read,in any case .
I rarely enjoy required reading books. This book however, is another story (haha puns). I literally could not put the book down. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Carly
Great read. Thank you to Henrietta for her cells which went on to help cure all sorts of things. I wish the people that made money off those cures would have given some to the... Read morePublished 5 days ago by slkj21
How wonderful to read such a memorable non-fiction and actually learn something about how our body works. I will never forget Henrietta Lacks.Published 8 days ago by Dolores
A good read. Historically very interesting. A little too much Lacks family detail in 2nd half of book, but worthwhile reading anyway.Published 8 days ago by Small office guy