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The Way of All Flesh

I was looking for Michael Rogers' Rolling Stone article on Henrietta Lacks and came across this 1997 documentary by Adam Curtis.  Great footage and interviews with many of the persons in Skloot's book.  It is about 55 mins. in length.


  1. I also found that Rogers did a follow-up book, Biohazard, published in 1977, that goes deeper into the biotech industry. Unable to find a review of any kind on the book, but it is available for cheap through Abebooks and other sources. Rogers is now a Futurist.

  2. The short interviews with the Lacks family in 1997 give a very different impression than the one Skloot left in her book. They seemed very congenial, not the remote family Skloot described. Seems to me that they felt they had said all they had to say on the subject by the time Rebecca came around.

  3. And I get the impression that she wants to make more of her friendship with the daughter and the family than was there. They didn't even notify her of Deborah's death.

    Again, this book seems more about Skloot, starting with her being so smart in biology at 16, and less about the real people involved.

    Still, it's turned out to be a great book to discuss!

  4. WOW! Thanks, Gintaras. What a film. Highly recommend it after reading the book.

  5. Gintaras, I didn't want our conversation on the HeLa cells, et al. to end without thanking you for finding and posting the link to this documentary. It showed Deborah Lacks as a confident self-assured person, hurt by the absences in her life, but not silly as she often seems in the book. I wish more people could see it. Again, thanks.

  6. I would say the way the Lacks family has been characterized is what annoyed me most about the book. The funny part is reading Skloot describe the documentary. Of course, she had access to the raw footage, but Deborah didn't come across the way she described her at all, and I don't think that was just editing.

  7. Carol, glad you watched that! Wasn't it fascinating?!

    What it did for me is confirm my intuition about the Lacks family -- that they weren't some sort of ignorant low lifes as Skloot suggests in the way she writes about them.

    I'll have to go back now and see what Skloot says about the documentary. Taken with the Landecker journal article, you can see the real story. Just as shocking and uncomfortable as Skloots wants you to think it is, but done with some insight and compassion, for lack of a better word this early in the morning.

  8. Or respect. I think that's the word I was looking for.

  9. av, the documentary has what the book most lacked, good production values. The more I read about Skloot's maneuvers to produce a best seller, the less I think of her. On the other hand, probably that kind of behind the scenes activity is involved in every best seller. Even in times of economic adversity, Americans have a lot of disposable income to spend on books like this. (OTH, better Skloot than Cussler or Brown.)


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