The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

  • by Rebecca Skloot
  • Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
  • 12 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer whose cancer cells – taken without her knowledge – became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first ‘immortal’ human tissue grown in culture, HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the effects of the atom bomb; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta herself remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave
Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey in search of Henrietta's story, from the ‘coloured’ ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live, and struggle with the legacy of her cells. Full of warmth and questing intelligence, astonishing in scope and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

So touching

I was surprised by this book. I thought the author did an amazing job of pulling all the detail together to create a really interesting true story that had you there to the end. The most impressive thing about it was the author - I got to really like her for her compassion, resilience and creativity. It took 10 years, but definitely worth it. Added bonus, I now have a much deeper understanding of cell research and the ethical issues around it. It actually made me cry a couple of times, and certainly had me laughing. Well done! I'm really glad I read it.
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- Marita

great read

really interesting story. what am amazing thing to dedicate your life to. privacy & consent issues definitely ongoing & something to be aware of. fantastic writing.
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- Bonnie Reeves

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-02-2011
  • Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio