THE TREATMENT: The Story of Those Who Died in the Cincinnati Radiation Test

Martha Stephens, Author, Martha Stephens, Author, Stephens, Author
Martha Stephens, Author, Martha Stephens, Author, Stephens, Author . Duke Univ. $28.95 (376p) ISBN 978-0-8223-2811-7
Reviewed on: 01/07/2002
Release date: 01/01/2002
Open Ebook - 373 pages - 978-0-8223-8375-8
Open Ebook - 373 pages - 978-1-282-92030-9
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From 1960 to 1972, a grisly and highly suspect research project was carried out in the bowels of Cincinnati General Hospital. Cancer patients, most of them in advanced stages of the disease, were exposed to massive quantities of radiation over long and continuous periods of time. Nearly all of them (over 100 altogether) died within weeks or months of the start of the irradiation "therapy." In 1971 Stephens, a professor of English at the University of Cincinnati, began to make inquiries about the Cincinnati project; despite the hospital authorities' reluctance, she eventually gained access to files documenting the treatments. They were, she says, horrifying records of misery, incompetence and medical hubris, and Stephens dedicated the next 30 years to publicizing them. Unfortunately, the story she relates here is less concerned with the patients than with herself: only about 70 pages are actually dedicated to a description and analysis of the experiments, while the rest of the book is a detailed, boring and highly self-serving account of the author's experiences with the press and the courts. While there appears to be little doubt that the Cincinnati project was a grotesque abuse of medical ethics and simple human decency, Stephens seems positively to revel in it as proof of the racism (most of the patients were black) and mendacity of the medical and political establishment. And while her dedication in bringing the case to light is admirable, her presentation of the parties involved ("She had believed the doctors, had automatically believed the doctors. I didn't feel she cared about common people but only about important people.") is as tendentious as it is simplistic. B&w photos. (Mar.)

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