The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Book - 2010
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Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer and viruses; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks is buried in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. The story of the Lacks family is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400052172
Characteristics: x, 369 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm


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March 2011

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Sep 20, 2017

learned a lot
and got caught by topic

Aug 04, 2017

I really enjoyed this book, wanting to learn more after I watched the movie of the same name. The book gave a little more understanding of the mental state of Deborah, and a more in-depth look at what happened to her siblings, sons, and Henrietta's doctors in later years.

SCL_Toby Jul 22, 2017

This a very approachable book about medical and research ethics and race relations. Skloot's writing skills keep the reader engaged and she explains the science end of the story clearly. Henrietta Lacks' story is very interesting, and at times heartbreaking. Skloot addresses both the issues of race and medical and science ethics deftly, exploring the balance between the need for timely, well-done research and the need for patient privacy, information, and well-being. An excellent read.

Jun 18, 2017

Great read.

Jun 11, 2017

Fascinating story about Henrietta Lacks and how her cancer cells were acquired by John Hopkins and then proceeded to multiply all over the world and even in space.

Skloot spent considerable time working patiently with Henrietta's family and does an excellent job of explaining the science behind the story. She also thoroughly tackles the thorny issues of the informed consent and profitmaking surrounding the tissue and blood samples that are used in laboratories all over the world.

AL_HOLLYR May 14, 2017

Skloot's book is a magnificent fusion of science, history, and brilliant storytelling. She is especially skilled at explaining scientific concepts in an accessible and engaging manner. Her rendering of Lacks' story reveals a deeply troubling history of racism, discrimination, and poverty in the U.S. Highly recommended for anyone who likes narrative nonfiction or fiction readers interested in trying a nonfiction title.

Cynthia_N May 11, 2017

I wanted to read this before watching the movie and I'm so glad I did. The story of how Henrietta's cancer was treated was horrifying and it was the standard treatment of the day! You empathize with the family who didn't really understand what was happening to their loved ones cells (once they found out, that is).

May 02, 2017

This true story which has affected all our lives deserves to be read. The HBO version does not tell 1/100th of the story or even some of the most important parts of the story.

Apr 24, 2017

Amazing story of a woman and the birth of a science that has fueled so much research and progress towards the treatment of deadly diseases.

Mar 28, 2017

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a wonderful book, especially to those who are interested in science or in the field. The story is written like a novel and goes throughout many years, from the 1950s all the way to the date of publication. The book is about Henrietta Lacks, the supposed “donor” of the popular cell line HeLa which is credited to many advances in science. It starts with many forks of the story path: one following Henrietta, another the scientists, and the other following the author, Rebecca, as she tries to research. The story can sometimes be a difficult read for the faint of heart -- there are certainly points where it is quite disturbing. The book raises many questions regarding ethics in the field of science but also how it has changed over time. The research into the science was wonderful, all sides of the story are properly covered leaving the reader to decide any conclusions. Race relations also play a role. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks does a great job of fleshing out every single person, bringing out the human quality, and that makes it difficult demonize any person or the sides to the issue as a whole. In general, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has wonderful writing, is a joy to read, and is a perfect window into the multifaceted issues regarding the HeLa cells. I would highly recommend The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

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Jun 17, 2015

True story of stolen body pieces of Everywoman Henrietta Lacks. Story readable despite presence of a great deal of science. Adult children search for their mother over years bearing up remarkably in face of medical-science establishment. Exceptional. Highly recommended.

Algonquin_Lisa Feb 24, 2011

A black woman's self-perpetuating cancer cells live past her own shortened life, providing doctors and scientists with an unparalleled opportunity to do nearly unlimited research. Her family, however, was unaware her cells were ever collected. In this book author Rebecca Skloot takes them on a journey to learn the extent to which their mother's cells changed the face of cancer research forever. Fascinating, and possibly the best work of nonfiction I've ever read.


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BookWormChelly Jul 08, 2013

“But I tell you one thing, I don't want to be immortal if it mean living forever, cause then everybody else just die and get old in front of you while you stay the same, and that's just sad.”

mrsgail5756 Apr 03, 2013

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” -George Washington


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Mar 11, 2016

CarolJ33 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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