Monday, 28 March 2011

Links for the next meeting - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Links on Rebecca Skloot's own site, including videos and audio

Adam Curtis' blog on the BBC site, which has the full length 1990s documentary that is referred to a lot in the book

The Henrietta Lacks Foundation, set up by Rebecca Skloot to help the descendants of Henrietta Lacks through education and healthcare payments.

(Donate here)

(Or, donate directly to the family here)

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a fascinating book for people interested in scientific or medical research, but its real achievement lies in it’s humane – and deeply human – look at both Mrs. Lacks and her descendants. It’s a wake up call to the medical community to remember that while they may be working with highly advanced technology and science, there’s a human being – a suffering human being, with people who love him or her – at the bottom of it all."

A review in The Guardian
"It would have been better to trust the story and tell it in as straightforward a way as possible. Skloot's final discussion of the ethics of the use of human tissue is followed by nine pages of acknowledgments that are more than usually fatuous and self-regarding, and the author's determination to write herself into the story distracts the reader from the dense factual background. But The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks succeeds despite itself: it is a fascinating, harrowing and necessary book, marred only slightly by the fact that the author wishes to be considered a heroine for writing it."

Plus, a bit off topic, David Simon's article about a contemporary woman living in Baltimore, the actress Felicia 'Snoop' Pearson
"In an essay published two years ago in Time magazine, the writers of The Wire made the argument that we believe the war on drugs has devolved into a war on the underclass, that in places like West and East Baltimore, where the drug economy is now the only factory still hiring and where the educational system is so crippled that the vast majority of children are trained only for the corners, a legal campaign to imprison our most vulnerable and damaged citizens is little more than amoral. And we said then that if asked to serve on any jury considering a non-violent drug offense, we would move to nullify that jury's verdict and vote to acquit. Regardless of the defendant, I still believe such a course of action would be just in any case in which drug offenses—absent proof of violent acts—are alleged."

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