Readers may think twice about going to their next doctor appointment after reading this creepy, unsettling account of human medical experimentation.
In a dramatic, engrossing narrative, Wittenstein describes many cringe-inducing examples of the ways doctors have exploited the marginalized, powerless and voiceless of society as human guinea pigs over the centuries. African-Americans, indigenous peoples, concentration-camp inmates, orphans, prisoners, the poor, the mentally ill and disabled have been subjected to injections of lethal diseases, ingestion of radioactive materials, exposure to poisons, surgical procedures and other horrors. Some experiments did lead to important discoveries and breakthroughs, but readers are challenged to consider the costs of violating individual rights for the cause of advancing medical knowledge. Drawing on a variety of sources, including contemporary newspaper articles, medical journals and, in at least one case, a personal interview, the author lays out this troubling history. She also documents the evolution of medical ethics and the establishment of procedures for things like clinical trials for new drug treatments. Sidebars offer additional information, filling in the cracks on related issues such as eugenics and thalidomide babies. Photographs, some not particularly well reproduced, illustrate the account.
A harrowing, often gruesome, exploration of some of the darkest moments in medical history. (source notes, bibliography, suggestions for further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)