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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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Received the book in a timely manner
Was a very good read.
Interesting , very good human interest story
Had not heard of Henrietta until this year . Read more
Great book to read I told everyone I know to add this to their book collections.Published 2 days ago by David Wilson
This book was a very detailed account of scientific history and its affect on an entire family. Very enjoyable and enlightening readPublished 2 days ago by Rhonda
I got the book fast, it was cheap and I really like it. Thank you!Published 2 days ago by Lynn Columbus
It reminded me of the struggle with the Aids epidemic and the book "The Band Played On"...it's tragic how we treat minorities and let greed keep us from doing the right... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Jackie Nairn
Delivered on time, in good shape,
price also reasonable. I give 5 star.
Fascinating, well written true story that should serve as a heads-up about medical ethics. This gem tells the, unfortunately little known history of the Lacks family with depth... Read morePublished 4 days ago by susan Christie
Historical, very interesting to learn about this woman whose cells were taken and other people with cancer were treated and lived because of the treatment they received; however,... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Elizabeth Szafranski