Best nonfiction books of 2010
Henrietta Lacks was born in Virginia in 1920, moved to Baltimore in 1943, and died of cervical cancer in 1951. But her cancer cells, taken without her knowledge, live on. Her story, and theirs, is told by Rebecca Skloot in "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." Skloot spent 10 years earning the trust of the surviving members of the Lacks family and following the trail of the "HeLa" cells. Having multiplied by the trillions, those cells helped create a multibillion-dollar industry in human biological materials; scientists use them to study everything from polio to steroids. Henrietta's relatives, meanwhile — who were not told about her "donation" until long after the fact — live in poverty, with patchy or nonexistent health care.