OUTRAGEOUS PRACTICES

THE ALARMING TRUTH ABOUT HOW MEDICINE MISTREATS WOMEN

What could, in less skilled hands, have been a shrill attack is in fact an admirably restrained and thorough examination of how the medical establishment has treated women as patients, as research subjects, and as health care providers. Medical journalists Laurence (author of the syndicated column ``Her Health'') and Weinhouse (a freelance writer for Elle and other magazines) combine solid research and personal interviews (sometimes with well-known individuals and sometimes with women whose identities are concealed) to create a compelling picture of what's wrong with women's health care. They show how medicine has discriminated against women as doctors; has excluded them as subjects in most research involving new drugs, medical treatments, and surgical techniques; and has regarded female patients as second-class citizens. Not surprisingly, the authors look at the surgicalization of reproduction, the lack of innovation in birth control, and the medicalization of menopause. They note that while often overtreated as obstetrical and gynecological patients, women, when they have other complaints, are frequently taken less seriously than men with similar symptoms. Laurence and Weinhouse examine the medical biases that lead to differences in how men and women with heart disease, kidney failure, cancer, and AIDS are diagnosed and treated. Not only do male physicians tend to dismiss women's complaints as psychosomatic, but since women have not been included in most research studies, adequate information is simply missing on how best to treat them. The authors touch all the bases, including sexual harassment of women doctors, the trivialization of women's mental health, the gender bias in pharmaceutical advertising, and the intrusion of the courts into women's personal medical decisions. They conclude with some hopeful signs of change: More women are becoming physicians, and more research projects are including female subjects. Comprehensive analysis, well presented and well documented. (First serial to Ladies' Home Journal; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 1994

ISBN: 0-449-90745-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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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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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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