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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
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The author weaves history and present time in a masterful way, asking the questions and then providing answers - some you might not have wanted to know or hear about the... Read morePublished 16 hours ago by Sendorski
While the history of HeLa is interesting, this author is not an author and is just a bad writer. She went on weird, long, irrelevant tangents about the Lacks family. Read morePublished 1 day ago by David Hancock
It was easy to read and kept me interested. It was interesting to read about how cervical cancer was treated in the fifties a nd the life that they lived back then.Published 4 days ago by 55HEL
Our university used this book as the campus read project. All departments could use it as a resource and many did. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Cheryl A. Paul
This non fiction is important reading for everyone. Regardless to the reader having a science background or not. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Pamela S. Thomas
This is a great book if you are interested in science, medicine, race in America and history. The first half of the books is perhaps a bit more interesting than the second half,... Read morePublished 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great book researching the cells of Henrietta and the relationships of the Lack family. Very informative about cell research and the ethics involved.Published 5 days ago by Kindle Customer