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The Great Starvation Experiment: Ancel Keys and the Men Who Starved for Science Paperback – January 8, 2008
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Sounds like a tale of Nazi atrocities, but Todd Tucker's Great Starvation Experiment is about a group of conscientious objectors who volunteered for this experiment in order to learn how best to aid the recovery of starvation victims. The doctor in charge, Ancel Keys, later became famous for discovering the relationship between fatty diets and heart disease.
In addition to covering the experiment itself, Tucker gives us a biography of Dr. Keys, a short history of the conscientious objector in America, and brings up the question of ethics in medicine. After the Nuremberg Trials, the Nuremberg Code was written, an international document detailing standards governing medical experimentation on humans. U.S. doctors refused to accept the code, claiming they were already bound by their own extremely high standards. Tucker presents evidence that not all American doctors felt bound by personal and professional ethics and conducted some rather alarming and harmful experiments on people, usually without their knowledge.
The Great Starvation Experiment is readable and entertaining. It was so readable, with snippets of conversation and anecdotes, that I began to doubt its reliability. But the extensive bibliography, detailed notes, and many interviews convinced me that this is a complete and factual story of a little-known episode of the World War II homefront.
For more information, listen to the author, Todd Tucker's interview on the Diane Rehm show. I believe that you can listen to previously recorded programs online.
Over the years I've met some of the Brethren, Mennonites, Friends, and others who refused to serve because of their religious beliefs. They were anything but cowards. Some pioneered the science of Smoke Jumping, others exposed the abuses of nuring homes and asylums, while many served as medical guinea pigs.
I met one of the latter about fifteen years ago, a man named Carlysle Frederick, who once admitted under questioning that he'd taken part in the starvation experiment. I wrote a few articles about him, but I always felt the story needed to be widely known.
Thank heavens for this book. The author has done his homework, and carefully examines the ethical questions that undergird what was a daring and almost brutal experiment which has, as the subtitle suggests, saved millions of lives over the year.
One cannot read this book without admiring both the calm and measured religious convictions of the three historic peace churches, the Brethren, the Mennonites, and the Friends, as well as the many others from other traditions.
The heroism of the participants, the extreme privations they endured, and their good humor, all deriving from their desire to serve humanity during their service through CPS, is worth honoring as another way to be patriotic.
For those who want to know more about CPS and related forms of service for peace, I also recommend the book A Cup of Cold Water, by J. Kenneth Kreider.
Unfortunately, it was a bit of a disappointment, given that only 2-3 chapters really deal with the experiment itself, its ethical implications, etc. The others deal with historical context (which is very interesting, but I could've read a history book if that was what I was looking for), history of starvation, history of the Peace Churches (again: interesting, but not what I was looking for in a book with this title), Ancel Key's life & accomplishments, etc.
I also missed more excerpts from the subjects' journals as firsthand account of what was going on, instead of the oftentimes-novelesque narration.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a fascinating book! It only took me a few days to read, because I was glued to every chapter!
I found this book to be highly interesting, moving, and educational. Read more
Fascinating study of a little-known project during WWII which saw conscientious objectors volunteering to have themselves slowly starved in order to help save famine victims of... Read morePublished 3 months ago by James D. Crabtree
The title should have been "Ancel Keys's Work in Human Nutrition." There isn't much meat in terms of what the experience was like for the volunteers. Read morePublished 6 months ago by TheBanshee
A must read in understanding the body and metabolic damage.Published 14 months ago by hanna banaszkiewicz
If I hadn't seen a throwaway reference to this experiment on a blog once, I wouldn't have known to look for this book. I'm so glad I did. Read morePublished 21 months ago by M.A.
Good if your interest is on the biological progress of starvation and its effects on the human body. Read morePublished 22 months ago by engel
Well researched, this book brings great balance to the story of WWII. Truly never have so many owed so much to so few. Read morePublished on June 29, 2014 by Dr. Leslie J. May
The author did the effort and i acknowledge it, the fact that i have never heard about this experiment before was a great educational plus. Read morePublished on December 20, 2013 by DraCaroline