Today, Rebecca Skloot’s famously good book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, is available in paperback. If you have any interest in science in American culture, you should read this.
Through this book, Skloot tells the story of to origin of HeLa cells, a line of cells that transformed the medical research industry. She traces them from their origin, their (by today’s standards) unethical harvesting, and their world-wide proliferation.
She tells the story from the perspective of the family of the woman from whom the cells were harvested (Henrietta Lacks). As she tells the story, we watch the scientific and business communities adapt to the opportunities and challenges presented by scientific advancement. And we see how our awareness of ethical issues lags well behind our scientific understanding.
If you are interested in science (or STEM), ethics, American culture, diversity, or good writing, this book it worth the read and the thoughtful reflection that it inspires.