Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and Its Legacy / Edition 1

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The forty-year "Tuskegee" Syphilis Study has become the American metaphor for medical racism, government malfeasance, and physician arrogance. The subject of histories, films, rumors, and political slogans, it received an official federal apology from President Bill Clinton in a White House ceremony.

Susan M. Reverby offers a comprehensive analysis of the notorious study of untreated syphilis, which took place in and around Tuskegee, Alabama, from the 1930s through the 1970s. The study involved hundreds of African American men, most of whom were told by the doctors from the U.S. Public Health Service that they were being treated, not just watched, for their late-stage syphilis. Reverby examines the study and its aftermath from multiple perspectives to explain what happened and why the study has such power in collective memory. She follows the study's repercussions in facts and fictions.

Reverby highlights the many uncertainties that dogged the study during its four decades and explores the newly available medical records. She uncovers the different ways it was understood by the men, their families, and the health care professionals, ultimately revising the conventional wisdom on the study.

Writing with rigor and clarity, Reverby illuminates the events and aftermath of the study and sheds light on the complex knot of trust, betrayal, and belief that keeps this study alive in our cultural and political lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Blends [Reverby's] rich insights as a noted historian and public intellectual. . . . America's historians and medical community will benefit greatly from reading Examining Tuskegee."
-Journal of American History

"An essential historical framework of public health ethics."
-Health Affairs

"In less competent hands, the attempt to unravel the complexities of Tuskegee would have merely replaced one entanglement with another. However, Reverby's knowledge and skill are evident on virtually every page. Written in a clear and engaging style buttressed by convincing and exhaustive research, this book is likely to remain the essential monograph on the subject for years to come."
-Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"A vitally important contribution to the literature surrounding the study. . . . Highly recommended."

"This in-depth and comprehensive approach, by exploring the aftermath of the Tuskegee Study, distinguishes it from other writings on this topic. . . . The best presentation, thus far, of how race, medicine and research have intersected as a consequence of this convoluted Tuskegee Syphilis Study."
-The Journal of the National Medical Association

From the Publisher
Strenuously researched and duly accessible.—African American Review
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Susan M. Reverby is Marion Butler McLean Professor in the History of Ideas and Professor of Women's Studies at Wellesley College. She is editor ofTuskegee's Truths: Rethinking the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Race, Medical Uncertainty, and American Culture 1

Pt. I Testimony

1 Historical Contingencies: Tuskegee Institute, the Public Health Service, and Syphilis 13

2 Planned, Plotted, & Official: The Study Begins 29

3 Almost Undone: The Study Continues 56

4 What Makes It Stop? 73

5 Testimony: The Public Story in the 1970s 86

Pt. II Testifying

6 What Happened to the Men & Their Families? 111

7 Why & Wherefore: The Public Health Service Doctors 135

8 Triage & "Powerful Sympathizing": Eugene H. Dibble, Jr. 152

9 The Best Care: Eunice Verdell Rivers Laurie 167

Pt. III Traveling

10 Bioethics, History, & the Study as Gospel 187

11 The Court of Imagination 204

12 The Political Spectacle of Blame & Apology 216

Epilogue: The Difficulties of Treating Racism with "Tuskegee" 227

Appendix A Chronology 241

Appendix B Key Participants' Names 249

Appendix C Men's Names 251

Appendix D Tables and Charts 257

Notes 263

Bibliography 333

Index 365

A section of illustrations appears after page 108

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 29, 2009

    Website available

    I have put up a website, www.examiningtuskegee.com, that has more data, more pictures, and a FAQ on the Study. Susan Reverby

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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