An enlightening and well-supported examination of shocking malfeasance.

CARTE BLANCHE

THE EROSION OF MEDICAL CONSENT

An alarming indictment of exploitative medical research.

Medical ethicist and journalist Washington offers considerable evidence of deceptive and devious practices in medical research, which especially impact Black Americans. After World War II, she notes, in response to “forcible human experimentation” inflicted upon prisoners and concentration camp victims, “the Nuremberg Code was imposed to ban research without voluntary consent. Informed consent was enshrined into U.S. law in 1947 to ensure that research would never be imposed on Americans without their knowledge or consent.” However, researchers have found ways to undermine that law, leading to the continuation of nonconsensual experimental abuse. Reprising evidence that she presented in Medical Apartheid (2007), Washington underscores her argument that African Americans historically have been victimized by researchers. “Whether subjected to laissez-faire experimentation on the plantation, early clinics, or other institutions, black Americans were sold to doctors expressly for nineteenth-century research and physician-training purposes,” she writes. This included the testing of reproductive surgical procedures on Black women “because unlike white women, they could not say no.” The infamous Tuskegee syphilis study, which ran from 1932 to 1972, withheld treatment for 600 Black men diagnosed with syphilis, instead maintaining them in an infected state so they could be “tracked, studied, and ultimately autopsied.” In 2010, researchers “intentionally induced hypothermia in unwitting black men who suffered gunshot wounds.” Prisoners and soldiers have repeatedly become research subjects without their consent, but Washington asserts that nonconsensual research—for profit—is becoming more normalized, risking the well-being of all Americans. She advocates clear disclosures to allow the average patient to agree to become an informed participant, including “possible lifestyle effects” of a given study. A patient who refuses or is deemed incapable of consent “should be considered ineligible for research and simply treated with the best known care, as if there were no research study to worry about.”

An enlightening and well-supported examination of shocking malfeasance.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73442-072-2

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Columbia Global Reports

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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