For the Good of Mankind?: The Shameful History of Human Medical Experimentation

For the Good of Mankind?: The Shameful History of Human Medical Experimentation

by Vicki Oransky Wittenstein
     
 

Experiment: A child is deliberately infected with the deadly smallpox disease without his parents' informed consent. Result: The world's first vaccine.

Experiment
: A slave woman is forced to undergo more than thirty operations without anesthesia. Result: The beginnings of modern gynecology. 

Incidents like

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Overview

Experiment: A child is deliberately infected with the deadly smallpox disease without his parents' informed consent. Result: The world's first vaccine.

Experiment
: A slave woman is forced to undergo more than thirty operations without anesthesia. Result: The beginnings of modern gynecology. 

Incidents like these paved the way for crucial, lifesaving medical discoveries. But they also harmed and humiliated their test subjects, many of whom did not agree to the experiments in the first place. How do doctors balance the need to test new medicines and procedures with their ethical duty to protect the rights of human subjects? Take a harrowing journey through some of history's greatest medical advances—and its most horrifying medical atrocities—to discover how human suffering has gone hand in hand with medical advancement.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Amy S. Hansen
Just picking up this book and looking at the subtitle, "The Shameful History of Human Medical Experimentation," lets you know this book will not be an easy read. Wittenstein documents case after case after case of experimentation without consent, or full knowledge. One particularly horrible case describes orphans at the turn of the twentieth century. They were injected with tuberculosis in their eyes so that scientists could understand how the disease developed. Yes, in a sense there were justifications—the disease was prevalent at the time, and if the orphans caught it later, they were likely to die—but the degree to which the doctors treat these children as petri dishes is appalling. Wittenstein writes some hard truths about the state of science past and present. It is a well-written but depressing list of events until the back matter. At that point she offers "critical thinking questions." These questions are one of the best parts of the book. They give the reader a framework to address the atrocities, and put them in context, without becoming totally depressed. This book could be a very powerful tool for discussion of ethics and changes in society. But it will also be upsetting, and will be best if the last chapter is read first. The rest of the back matter includes source notes, bibliography, and an index. Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen
VOYA - Alicia Abdul
At less than one-hundred pages, Wittenstein's history of human medical experimentation is thinner than anticipated for such an engaging topic and intriguing cover. In five brief chapters, Wittenstein highlights human guinea pigs, inhumane Nazi experimentation, exploitation during wartime, scandals, and safeguarding humans from future mistreatment. The cases she presents are eye-opening but balanced in presentation, and portrays many of the willing serving out of a sense of nationalism rather than personal or financial gain. Yet there are just as many cases of unknowing participants, including children, the mentally disabled, or inmates, whose illnesses are disregarded as scientists use their bodies for science. Infamous cases made popular recently, like Henrietta Lacks or reports from Dr. Josef Mengele's labs, are given their due diligence in the book with provocative side notes about eugenics, stem cell research, and the Manhattan Project, albeit only briefly, with the photographs enhancing the side notes and stories alike. With a sharpened focus on narrative nonfiction in the Common Core, Wittenstein's book will certainly find its place in the library, aptly integrating itself in both history and science with connections to ethics and the future of research, especially when using the critical analysis questions at the back. Sadly, the brevity as a whole makes it average rather than stellar, but with its format and easily understood plot, it is a solid purchase. Reviewer: Alicia Abdul
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
Readers may think twice about going to their next doctor appointment after reading this creepy, unsettling account of human medical experimentation. In a dramatic, engrossing narrative, Wittenstein describes many cringe-inducing examples of the ways doctors have exploited the marginalized, powerless and voiceless of society as human guinea pigs over the centuries. African-Americans, indigenous peoples, concentration-camp inmates, orphans, prisoners, the poor, the mentally ill and disabled have been subjected to injections of lethal diseases, ingestion of radioactive materials, exposure to poisons, surgical procedures and other horrors. Some experiments did lead to important discoveries and breakthroughs, but readers are challenged to consider the costs of violating individual rights for the cause of advancing medical knowledge. Drawing on a variety of sources, including contemporary newspaper articles, medical journals and, in at least one case, a personal interview, the author lays out this troubling history. She also documents the evolution of medical ethics and the establishment of procedures for things like clinical trials for new drug treatments. Sidebars offer additional information, filling in the cracks on related issues such as eugenics and thalidomide babies. Photographs, some not particularly well reproduced, illustrate the account. A harrowing, often gruesome, exploration of some of the darkest moments in medical history. (source notes, bibliography, suggestions for further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781467706599
Publisher:
Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/28/2013
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
640,065
Product dimensions:
6.90(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile:
1160L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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