What an absolutely fascinating book! I’m so grateful to Arlene Blum for telling me about it!
This non-fiction book gives the reader much more than I expected and sustained my interest all the way through, including the appendix (!!!). I had it as an audio-book, and the readers were excellent.
It’s a tale of medical history, explaining how important (big-time!) advances came to be. But it’s also a well told story of the real people behind these advances, their lives and how events affected them.
And then there’s more. Much more. These medical advances are intertwined with American history, the history of African-American’s migration to big cities and their relationship with the medical establishment (who knew that John Hopkins hospital once had segregated wards, and that’s because they were the only hospital in Baltimore that would treat the African-Americans to begin with?) and even a connection to the question of why the members of Klu Klux Klan wore white sheets.
If all that wasn’t enough, there is the legal aspect. What rights did patients have then? What rights do we have now in related to cells and tissue taken from our bodies?
Through all that, there is a very personal story of Henrietta Lacks and her family, over several generations.
I really recommend this book!