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

By Katherine Keller on August 29, 2015 1:44 PM | Permalink

Vicki Wittenstein

Twenty-first Century Books, 2014. 96 pages

Non Fiction
Middle School: 7-8
Juvenile Non-Fiction:  R853.H8 W58 2014

At some point in the process, every new advance in medical understanding, procedure, or treatment comes through work done on an actual human being, which means a risk of some sort with the potential for a great reward.  The issue is: how and when is it okay to use people as test subjects?  The problem is: when a scientist or doctor doesn't take ethics into consideration, advances come at the expense of people's freedom, dignity, happiness, or lives.

This book is perfect for junior high readers. Through an examination of famous case histories, Wittenstein shows why ethics matter and what goes wrong when they are not considered, or outright ignored. In clear, easy to understand language, readers learn how a lack of ethical concerns in medical experimentation has meant that the human cost of those experiments has been disproportionately borne by the mentally ill, people of color, prisoners, orphans, and the poor -- those least able to advocate for themselves.  The abundance of images of in For the Good of Mankind? and the detail of the case histories (e.g., Simeon Shaw, a young boy with cancer, who did not receive promised treatment, but was instead injected with radioactive plutonium) put a real human face to the tragedy of unethical medical experimentation.

For the Good of Mankind? is a useful book for budding scientists, doctors, dentists, nurses, anybody interested in the history of medicine, or anybody interested in ethics  The book also features a section of questions to guide critical analysis of the ethical issues raised in each chapter, which allows readers to dig deeper. Finally, this book, with its clear explanation of issues and consequences, is gold for anybody trying to teach on the topic of ethics.

Bibliotherapy Topics:  Crime, Trauma, Trust


Katherine Keller -- CML Evening and Weekend Supervisor