Did not finish - got about halfway through and called it. Not what I was hoping for... Perhaps it was the audiobook format (the narrator's voice) but...moreDid not finish - got about halfway through and called it. Not what I was hoping for... Perhaps it was the audiobook format (the narrator's voice) but something about the tone of the writing (or possibly the narrator's reading OF the writing) was off-putting to me. (less)
What a wild ride! If you read Wright's 2011 *New Yorker* piece on Scientology, you will want to follow up with this book - he goes deeper, expands the...moreWhat a wild ride! If you read Wright's 2011 *New Yorker* piece on Scientology, you will want to follow up with this book - he goes deeper, expands the story to include a full biography of L. Ron Hubbard, and all of the changes in the organization after LRH's death in the 1980s. The last part of the book - while still engaging and very interesting - was a little tabloid(y) with all of the Hollywood star talk, but I fully realize that this is a big part of Scientology's method/mission: well-known and well-liked spokespersons to shill the religion.
Shocking and thrilling. It really is an eye-opener.(less)
Sure, I was alive for many of the events described in this book, but I had no idea what was going on. Maddow schooled me. I was either a kid and had n...moreSure, I was alive for many of the events described in this book, but I had no idea what was going on. Maddow schooled me. I was either a kid and had no concept of the dramatic shift in the Reagan administration's defense/military policy, or too ignorant to understand all of the political intricacies - both, actually.
Loved the writing style and the small asides and commentary. She's brilliant.(less)
Gosh, this book was fabulous. Linden has such an engaging style - like you are just having a casual conversation. Each chapter is an essay that focuse...moreGosh, this book was fabulous. Linden has such an engaging style - like you are just having a casual conversation. Each chapter is an essay that focuses on a location or people group that he has encountered during his long career as a foreign correspondent and journalist. After reading each chapter, I did my own research and further reading... he has a way of really piquing the reader's interest to learn more.
Compelling and fascinating pageturner that weaves the unique and groundbreaking story behind the HeLa cells that have revolutionized medical science i...moreCompelling and fascinating pageturner that weaves the unique and groundbreaking story behind the HeLa cells that have revolutionized medical science in the last century. Skloot puts a name, a face, and a rich family history around the cells of Henrietta Lacks, who the "immortal" cells were essentially stolen from in the 1950s after she started treatment for severe cervical cancer. Medical records, archival research, and oral history paint a vivid picture of the Lacks' family's struggles in 1950s Baltimore. Skloot tells the story first hand, as she meets the surviving members of the Lacks family, and becomes very close to Henrietta's youngest daughter, Deborah.
The book details very painful events (specifically Henrietta's abysmal "care" in the hospital after her tumors were discovered, and the treatment of Henrietta's other daughter, Elsie, in the Home for the Negro Insane) in the Lacks' family history. Skloot travels to southern Virginia where Henrietta grew up, and where she is now buried.
The personal side of the book is so captivating, and the way Skloot interweaves this story in with the scientific information is near seamless. It's very well-done and quite accessible for a non-scientific audience. I learned a lot about genetics and about the research that the famous HeLa cells have engendered. I particularly enjoyed the portion of the book when the researcher spent the day with Skloot and Deborah Lacks, explaining the true breakthroughs from the HeLa cell line. There is soome criticism (here on GoodReads as well) that the book spent too much time with the Lacks' descendants, but I would argue that this is a very important part of the book - noting that while the Jim Crow laws are not in place, and the legal system is more aware of scientific research and patient "rights", there have not been socioeconomic strides for science education and alleviation of poverty in these inner-city areas. Skloot provided a very important context to the story of HeLa by setting the scene with Deborah, Zecharia, Lawrence, and the "cousins" in rural Virginia.
On a local note, it was very interesting to learn the details about the Lacks family and their history in the Baltimore region. I have lived near Baltimore (and even worked and took classes at the institution that plays a large - and unfortunate - role in this book) for years and did not know some of the things that were discussed. Even closer to home, I was moved, and saddened to learn about the tragedies that happened at the Crownsville hospital, which is near my parents' home, and where I went to high school. I didn't realize the full history of the institution.
Very moving story, and it is highly recommended. (less)