A moving exploration of an unthinkable trespass against an innocent man.

THE ORGAN THIEVES

THE SHOCKING STORY OF THE FIRST HEART TRANSPLANT IN THE SEGREGATED SOUTH

Another sad tale of virulent racism—this time involving the medical community—at the height of the civil rights movement.

Jones is a Pulitzer Prize–nominated journalist with deep roots in Virginia’s still-divided communities, so the reportage is unsurprisingly solid, and the depths and repercussions of the story he discovered are startling. The author takes the time to put the history of organ transplants and their various failures and successes into context before he arrives at the pivotal event of his narrative. In May 1968, African American factory worker Bruce Tucker fell off a brick wall and fractured his skull. Brought to the Medical College of Virginia’s emergency room, Tucker was found to have suffered a grave injury. This caught the attention of Drs. David Hume and Richard Lower, who made the decision to take Tucker’s heart and transplant it into Joseph Klett, a white businessman with severe heart disease. From here, the story morphs into something of a sociological mystery. Tucker’s family discovered his organs were missing at the funeral home, dogged reporters attempted to chase down the facts, and hospital staff and administrators wrestled with the ethics of what they had done. There was also a hotly contested legal battle that emerged when Tucker’s family sued the hospital, igniting a face-off between Jack Russell, known for “defending physicians named in medical malpractice suits,” and Doug Wilder, the Tucker family’s attorney and “one of the best-known African American trial lawyers practicing in the state capital.” This is a powerful story that examines institutional racism, mortality, medical ethics, and the nature of justice for black men living in the American South. The author also offers two chilling codas, one involving the discovery of a mass grave and the other chronicling his search for Tucker’s son some 50 years later.

A moving exploration of an unthinkable trespass against an innocent man.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982107-52-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Jeter Publishing/Gallery Books

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

F*CK IT, I'LL START TOMORROW

The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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