This is an important story. It is thoroughly investigated and well written. BUT, it is not s good audo book b/c of all the detail. Do yourself a favor -- clear your schedile, and settle in w/ a good old fashioned HARDCOPY.
Heard about this book on NPR's 'Fresh Air.' The story of Henrietta's 'HeLa' cells are mind blowing, the way they have impacted our lives in so many ways. This story really becomes the story of Henrietta's family, who are unfortunately extremely naive in terms of the impact her cells have had on medical history. One feels very badly for them, and frankly, whenever I have to sign a concent form in a Dr.'s office, I'm super sensitive to any verbiage stating my cells can be used for commercial purposes. The bummer about this is the amount of (boring) detail the author gets into tracing the legacy and history of cell culturing in our society. Great research, but at times reads like a science book.
This book is interesting, well written, and important. I learned so much about the science of cells, as well as the human side of this kind of research.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
This meticulously researched and written book is at the top of the heap. The writing, through spare, is perfect for the subject. The narration is spot-on. Where some non-fiction can lag, the author did an incredible job of actually bringing the story along. No matter what you think about medical research or bio-ethics, this book will make you rethink your stand. If you don't care about those issues, reading about Henrietta Lacks alone is worth the time. Simply brilliant in every possible way.
There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson
I can really appreciate the depth of the research that went into this book. Since the book is structured around the chronology of Rebekka Skloot's research, it becomes apparent that it was pretty much her whole life for many years. I found the weaving of human interest stories about Henrietta and her family along with interesting scientific facts to be an engaging technique. It's interesting that several reviews I read fault her for NOT being scientific enough and for including her own story into the book. To me, those parts made all the science palatable and the book very readable!
One thing that struck me is the depth of the ignorance of all of the Lacks. They were underprivileged and uneducated mostly. In addition, there had been a lot of inbreeding in their family, so their were other issues that hampered their development. They mostly had so little education that even basic scientific explanations swished right by them and they relied more on some kind of magical thinking or myth. One myth was how Johns Hopkins medical center was snatching black people off the street to do medical research on them. In fact the author shows how Johns Hopkins was founded on the principal of helping blacks and any indigent people! There are definitely morally ambiguous decisions that were made at Johns Hopkins, but it didn't involve snatching blacks off the street! I like the way the author then went back in history to explain how this type of thinking originated. She said black oral history is filled with stories of "night doctors" who did kidnap black people and use them for research. Evidently slave owners used prey on blacks' belief that ghosts caused disease and death and their fear of these "night doctors" by dressing up as a ghost in a white sheet and scaring them into thinking that they were going to be taken away. This was a technique to keep the slaves from running away or meeting together, evidently. And, most interesting, is that these white sheeted costumes were the precursor of the Ku Klux Klan robes.
In the end, I found the book easy to read and follow, but I did get a little tired of it. I'm really only marginally interested in HELA cells, so this was a lot to read. It's a tribute to the author that she could make it as interesting as she did!
Research Technologist with deep interests in Host Cell - Pathogen Interactions & Cancer Research. I enjoy and mostly listen to Non-Fiction audiobooks on Medicine/Science, War and History. I also like to Game when I'm not in the lab.
I have known about Hela cells for sometime, knew it came from a woman who had cancer and later died of it and that's it! I never knew the happenings before she got the cancer, what she went through, events prior to sample taken, doctors and scientists responsible and the family not even aware of this. Knowing what the cells are capable of and reading a story like this made me enjoy it the more. Not forgetting what the author (Rebecca Skloot) went through to get us this story.
The combination of real life events and Science. The story makes you aware of an event prior to an achievement still in existence.
The mixture of voices; one with the real drawl of African American accent and one with the normal tone of an English narrator made it seem I was right there in front of the conversations and made me feel the drama. This is narration at it's best - a wonderful job done by Cassandra Campbell & Bahni Turpin, I've never seen this done on any audiobook.
All the sad stories about the Lack's family sometimes made me feel very sad.
Hela cells are used in many labs all the time everyday and I know most scientists and technicians really don't know the origin of it aside the scientific basis of the cells. Knowing a story like this and working with Hela cells will make you appreciate and honor the woman behind it and love science the more not forgetting her family.We thank you Henrietta Lacks for your unforgettable cells.
This is really a fascinating story. The author awakens readers to an awareness of our need to ask questions about how our "everyday" blessings came to be. Scientists, like their test subjects, do not live in a vacuum, and though much good came from the HeLa cells, we are left to consider the implications of the naively predatory practices of the age. Were we to rewrite history, would we choose to leave Henrietta Lacks to herself and her familys' memory, or would we "consume" her again for all the scientific and medical good her sample cells promised? The author tells the HeLa story extremely well--it is both intellectual enough and personable enough to keep the average reader engaged. She explains her motivations and resists the urge to demonize science and medicine. Best of all she tells the Lacks' story with straightforword empathy. I am very glad I read this book.
The drive of the writer, and her always knowing she needed to tell this story.
I feel they told the story just as it should have been told.
Same as the title of the book.
Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!
Skloot's fascinating book is somewhere in between a biography (Henrietta Lacks and her family), "Emperor of All Maladies" (cancer and cancer research) and "Warmth of Other Suns" (civil rights and the medical treatment of black patients in the 1950s).
Rebecca Skloot pursues the story of the woman behind the HeLa cells and finds Henrietta Lacks who died of cervical cancer in 1951. Along the way Rebecca meets Henrietta's children and grandchildren - tells us about the woman, and what medical discoveries that have come from her cells (including cures for polio and HPV and helping researchers understand cervical cancer).
The book also explores medical treatment of blacks in the 1950s before civil rights (separate wards in Baltimore's Johns Hopkins) and the ethics of using body parts/organs/biopsies for experiments and how the profit derived from new medical products should be shared with the family.
I was hesitant to listen to this book. I am not really into science and the workings of bodily functions. Cells have personally bored me.
However, I could not help but notice the very positive reviews surrounding this book. The subject matter did not seem so appealing.
I was wrong and am very glad to have listened to this book. Not only did I enjoy it and learn a lot ... my house is very clean. I stayed up late, listening as I cleaned. The book is totally engaging on many levels: culturally (not a pun ), personally, scientifically. It also brings great hope and an insight into how far we have grown as human beings.
I recommend The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, very glad that Rebecca Skloot had the persistence and courage to write it.