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Subjected to Science: Human Experimentation in America before the Second World War (The Henry E. Sigerist Series in the History of Medicine) Paperback – October 6, 1997

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Lederer's writing is crisp and clear, her historical documentation is exhaustive, and her social commentary persuasive. This book is an important addition to the growing literature on the history of human experimentation and medical research.

(New England Journal of Medicine)

Essential reading for anyone concerned with clinical research public policy and attitudes.

(Norman M. Goldfarb Journal of Clinical Research Best Practices)

About the Author

Susan E. Lederer is associate professor of the humanities at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center of the Pennsylvania State University.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Henry E. Sigerist Series in the History of Medicine
  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; Revised edition (October 6, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801857090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801857096
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #685,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The description says the book includes detailed accounts of experiments. This is not true. The book mostly discusses vivisection of animals and the implications on human medicine. The author touches on experiments, but does not go into details.
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Regular readers of Marvel comics and its universe will be aware of the "Super Soldier Serum" that transformed skinny and frail Steve Rogers into the super powerful hero known as Captain America. Well, what is often overlooked(not least in America) is that this amounted to a form of human experimentation( it's no coincidence that Rogers was an orphan with no living relatives and eager to serve his country) that has its darker side( when a group of African American soldiers at Camp Cathcart was injected with the same serum it led to hideous side effects- a thinly veiled allegory to the infamous "Tuskegee syphilis study")which had its real life counterparts as Susan Lederer's "Subjected To Science:Human Experimentation In America Prior To The Second World War).
In fact, abusive and inhumane human experimentation( esp with the socially marginalized, friendless and minority groups- mainly but not always African Americans- Hispanics, Native Americans and poor whites ran a second) has been a feature of American medico-scientific research since the 18th century, as Harriet Washington(no relation) reminds us in her magisterial indictment of such practices
in "Medical Apartheid: The Dark History Of Medical Experimentation On Black Americans From the Colonial Times To The Present"( Doubleday 2007) long before the names of "Joseph Mengele" "Unit 731" or the "Tuskegee Syphilis Study" became household names.
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Most work on the ethics of using human subjects in research begins with World War II, but here Lederer shows that the topic has a much longer history than that. Her analysis of pre-WWII medical/medical-research practices puts both the WWII era AND our current practices in a context that has been lacking in previous discourse on the topic.
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