Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Conspiracy of Cells

Not exactly new territory, as it turns out.  Here's another book (courtesy of Google) written in 1986 that deals with Henrietta Lacks and her immortal cells. 


  1. Terrific, albeit corny, opening. The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!

  2. I suppose that served as the necessary hook at the time ; )

  3. Reading that excerpt, though, does show that most of what I consider best about the Skloot book had already been written before -- including the graphic descriptions of cancer cells like pearls and that amazing realization of the humanness of Henrietta Lacks and that she once was more than her cells.

    When you think about it, Skloot was on the right track, wanting to write the biography of an otherwise almost anonymous woman. Unfortunately, she didn't seem up to the task. I agree with your comment earlier that the book reads like someone's first draft. That was my impression, too.

    That said, I read it to the end. Incredible story that I just hadn't heard about before, even though I worked for years with microbiologists and (environmental) biotechnologists. Maybe that's why I found it so fascinating.

  4. I see that Skloot was pretty hard on Gold, especially in mentioning the autopsy.