The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The...


Details The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

TitleThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
ISBN9781400052172
Author
Release DateFeb 2nd, 2010
PublisherCrown Publishing Group
LanguageEnglish
GenreNonfiction, Science, Biography, History, Health, Medicine
Rating

Reviews The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

  • Kemper
    2010-12-02
    The doorbell rang the other day and when I answered it, there was a very slick guy in a nice suit standing there and a limousine parked at the curb. He started shaking my hand and wormed his way into the house.“Mr. Kemper, I’m John Doe with Dee-Bag Industries Incorporated. I need you to sign some paperwork and take a ride with me. Don’t worry, I’ll have you home in a day or two,” he said. Then he pulled a document out of his briefcase, ...
  • Petra X
    2010-11-21
    This is an all-gold five star read.Its actually two stories, the story of the HeLa cells and the story of the Lacks family told by a journalist who writes the first story objectively and the second, in which she is involved, subjectively. The contrast between the poor Lacks family who cannot afford their medical bills and the research establishment who have made millions, maybe billions from these cells is ironic and tragic. It has been establish...
  • Emily May
    2016-03-17
    “She's the most important person in the world and her family living in poverty. If our mother is so important to science, why can't we get health insurance?” I've moved this book on and off my TBR for years. The truth is that, with few exceptions, I'm generally turned off by the thought of non-fiction. I'm a fan of fictional stories, and I think I've always felt that non-fiction will be dry, boring and difficult to get through. Especially a b...
  • Will Byrnes
    2010-11-24
    On October 4, 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a thirty-one-year old black woman, died after a gruesome battle with a rapidly metastasizing cancer. During her treatment, the doctors at Johns Hopkins took some cells from her failing body and used them for research. This was not an unusual thing to have done in 1951. But the cells that came from Ms. Lacks’ body were unusual. They had qualities that made them uniquely valuable as research tools. Labeled “...
  • Angela M
    2018-03-22
    4.5 stars. A young black mother dies of cervical cancer in 1950 and unbeknownst to her becomes the impetus for many medical advances through the decades that follow because of the cancer cells that were taken without her permission. This book evokes so many thoughts and feelings, sometimes at odds with one another. It is thought provoking and informative in the details and heartbreaking in the rendering of the personal story of Henrietta Lacks. I...
  • Laura
    2011-01-07
    Fascinating and Thought-Provoking. Strengths: *Fantastically interesting subject!One woman's cancerous cells are multiplied and distributed around the globe enabling a new era of cellular research and fueling incredible advances in scientific methodology, technology, and medical treatments. This strain of cells, named HeLa (after Henrietta Lacks their originator), has been amazingly prolific and has become integrated into advancements of science ...
  • Liz Nutting
    2010-08-26
    When I was a graduate student in the field of Ethics, one of my favorite pedagogical strategies, as both a teacher and a student, was the case study. A good case study can make an abstract ethical issue more concrete. A really good case study can turn a deeply contentious issue into an opportunity for thoughtfulness and compassion; right and wrong (to the extent that those concepts even belong in the study of ethics) are nuanced by descriptions o...
  • Kathleen
    2010-07-18
    My thoughts on this book are kind of all over the place. I feel for the Lacks family, I really do. It's hard to read about the poverty and lack of education and the cavalier approach towards informed consent in the early days of Johns Hopkins Research Hospital. The fact that the HeLa cell line is the foundation of so much valuable research is rightfully a source of pride for the family of Henrietta Lacks. I don't think they will ever see monetary...
  • Chelsea
    2011-01-01
    This could have been an incredible book. Henrietta Lacks' story is finally told--and Skloot makes very clear how important Lacks' cells have been to the last 60 years of science and, paradoxically, how much Henrietta and her family suffered because those cells were taken from Henrietta without her consent. But in her effort to contrast the importance and profitability of Henrietta's cells with the marginalization and impoverishment of Henrietta's...
  • Jacob
    2011-06-04
    May 2012Henrietta Lacks vs. Jesus: Final Exam(With apologies to believers)DirectionsPlease read the following excerpts, and answer the questions below:From the Last Supper: While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my bloo...
  • Margitte
    2017-01-19
    The gift of life is surely the greatest gift of all. So how can the story of the remarkable woman who gave that gift over and over again to millions of people have been overlooked for so long?In 1951 a poor African American woman in Maryland became an uninformed donor to medical science. Henrietta Lacks died at age 31 of cervical cancer at John Hopkins hospital in Baltimore. Then doctors discovered that tumor cells they had removed from her body ...
  • Dan Schwent
    2015-01-07
    When a poor woman dies of cervical cancer in 1951, her cancerous cells live on. But what happens when her biological material generates billions of dollars for the drug and pharmaceutical industry, leaving her dirt poor descendants in the lurch?Yeah, I know I wrote that like the teaser for one of my mysteries but the only mystery here is how people who have profited from the diseased cells that killed a woman can sleep at night while her kids and...
  • Jean
    2013-10-27
    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is is an extraordinary book. By turns it is shocking, informative and tragic. There is brilliance - but also deep injustice. It is in part an account of the development of genetics, part social commentary, and partly the story of one woman, Henrietta Lacks. She was an African-American woman descended from slaves and one white slave-owner (Lacks), and she lived as many hundreds of black people still did even as...
  • Carol
    2015-12-12
    This 2010 work of non-fiction regarding THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS is a sad story and a tough, draining read that shocked me more than once along the way.Henrietta was a poor black woman only 31 years of age when she died of cervical cancer leaving five children behind, her youngest, Deborah, just a baby. Her story is a heartbreaking one, but also an important one as her cancer cells, forever to be known as HeLa taken without her consen...
  • Rachel
    2011-08-17
    Full disclosure: I come to this book from a weirdly fortuitous place. Take my brief, but mind-searing, stint in gynecologic oncology research ca. 2002, which involved a weekly trek to the OR to pick up still-warm tumors, with the women who informedly consented to donate them often open on the table as I did so. Then throw in two years working in a tissue culture hood, two more in a narrative nonfiction book group, and another big chunk of time st...
  • Carol.
    2010-11-13
    Overall, a four star read that should probably be required reading for both biology and American history classes. (Actually, it was a far more interesting read than that makes it sound). While I had heard a great deal of buzz on the book, I wasn't prepared for how the story evolved. The book alternates between Henrietta Lacks' personal history, that of her family, a little of medical history and Skoot's actual pursuit of the story, which helps de...
  • Christy
    2017-01-06
    I do believe this book must have scored near the top of all books used in college courses these last 5-6 years - from English to history and social sciences, but I wonder how much traction it got in medical school and across the healthcare and medical research fields. It quickly became a "classic" because so many issues are covered: race, class, gender, genetics, property rights, and about the social ends of science and our technological choices....
  • Matt
    2016-10-07
    There are some books that I finish and am left in awe, questioning everything that I thought I knew on a subject. Or, as is the case hear, having learned so much about which I knew nothing. My jaw is still on the floor after I finished this book and I can only imagine the controversies and discussions it might provoke. A thank you goes out to three Goodreads friends who recommended that I read this book and open an avenue for discussion. Aven, Br...
  • Stacey
    2010-12-27
    I've started and erased my little book commentary so many times because this story is so overwhelming and so important on multiple levels, I'm not sure anything I could say about it would do justice to the complexity and dichotomy of the story surrounding Henrietta Lacks. It might not be far from the truth to state that she was the most important person who ever lived. A physical part of her body has saved hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions,...
  • Diane
    2010-04-27
    I am late to this book party, but let me explain: I get twitchy about medical stuff. Earlier this year I had to abandon Rosemary Mahoney's book about the blind because it described an eye surgery. I have never been able to finish Dr. Atul Gawande's Complications because of its description of medical procedures. It was a small miracle that I was able to finish the Call the Midwife series, because I hate childbirth scenes. When this Henrietta Lacks...
  • Lata
    2016-12-14
    A lot to process with this book. This book's been out for a while, so I'm just going to put down a bunch of thoughts rattling around in my head, and probably leave it at that:-legacy left by slavery and how it affected Henrietta Lacks and the members of her family, and African Americans in general (where they lived, what kind of employment was available to them, the quality of education available to them, the history of abuse and violence, and th...
  • Suzanne Leopold
    2013-01-25
    April 22nd will be a film on HBO !!!
  • Christina
    2010-07-02
    This was an interesting read. While I applaud Skloot's attempt to present a fair look at the history of the HeLa cell line used in research labs all over the world, the book is clearly skewed toward sympathy for the family. Not that they don't deserve sympathy, but really, the problems of the family is NOT the fault of anyone involved with the cell line. Don't get me wrong, Henrietta and her family have had a hard life, and they do deserve some s...
  • Jennifer
    2017-02-26
    You know all those forms you have to fill out while waiting at the doctor and dentist office? The tedious, repetitious ones that you could have sworn you already completed at least a thousand times? Next time you sigh loudly or roll your eyes at the prospect of this task, think about the people who came before us who were never offered the luxury of informed consent, confidentiality, and protection from discrimination. Horrendous injustices promp...
  • K.D. Absolutely
    2011-04-02
    I am not sure how is it in other countries but here in the Philippines, if you bring your car for repair in a service center and the serviceman says that he replaced a part, you how to do in you should find that replaced part inside your car. I think it is their proof that they actually replaced that part and also for you to decide how you want to dispose, resell, reuse or recycle it. Normally, this practice bothers me because I have a very small...
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2010-04-18
    Henrietta Lacks is a woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1951. The cells cut from her body, because of their aptitude for growth and replication, still play a significant role in treating disease and other medical tests. She did not know her cells were being used, and her family did not benefit financially. The author writes extensively about her family, as they were a crucial source for the book. Because of so many trust relationship...
  • Suzy
    2017-03-05
    I was completely in the thrall of author Rebecca Skloot while listening to the audio of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. This is at once a scientific story of Henrietta's cancer cells, called HeLa, which were harvested from her as she was dying from cervical cancer in 1951. These are the first human cells to become "immortal", perpetuating themselves even to today, and being used in many important health discoveries including polio vaccines,...
  • Hannah Greendale
    2016-08-26
    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is fascinating and heartbreaking in equal measure. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Before she died, a surgeon took samples of her tumor and put them in a petri dish. Scientists had been trying to keep human cells alive in cultures for decades, but they all eventually died. Henrietta's were different: they reproduced an entire generation every twenty-four hours, and they never stopp...
  • Kate
    2010-06-13
    This book irritated me from the beginning. It couldn't decide if it was a history of the cells, the life story of one woman, a chronicle of how an author tracks down the life story of a woman, a position paper on racism, a position paper on human tissue ownership, or a position paper on disorganized rhetoric. I think it was all of those, and it drove me absolutely up the wall.As a history of the HeLa cells ... I read a Wired article that was bett...
  • Gary
    2012-05-05
    This is a book that everyone should read....especially if you're ever had surgery, been to a doctor of any kind, etc., etc., etc. This situation could have happened, or might happen to anyone....What is sad about this story is it happened to a very beautiful,and naive African American woman, who was too poor to get good medical care,and died a horrible death,and yet she lives on..... find out how by reading this engaging, horrific story, set in t...