LAB USA: Illuminated Documents

Kevin C. Pyle, Author . Autonomedia $17.50 (156p) ISBN 978-1-57027-117-5

Pyle examines the underbelly of the medical research industry and presents an illustrated history of ethical disregard, medical malpractice and crackpot research funded, ironically, by the U.S. government. It's an idiosyncratic, expressionistically illustrated documentation of misery and death inflicted on thousands of unsuspecting Americans subjected to weird experiments and untested treatments without their consent and, in many cases, without the knowledge that an experiment was being conducted. The book opens with the notorious 1932 Tuskegee public health study on syphilis, a "study" that allowed more than 100 poor, uneducated black men to suffer the horrors of untreated syphilis before the program was finally halted in 1970. Pyle (an artist/illustrator who has done work for the New York Times, the New Yorker and more) offers a history of the eugenics movement in the U.S. and the involuntary sterilization of as many 60,000 Americans between the 1940s and 1963. Among the atrocities he reveals is the exposure to radiation, between 1945 and 1947, of more than 20,000 people without their knowledge; while in the 1940s, 819 poor white women were given oral doses of radioactive iron without their knowledge; and the CIA funded LSD testing on unknowing American servicemen over the years. Pyle interprets his disturbing research by graphically manipulating the very documents that record this grisly legacy, transforming them into moody, disturbing black-and-white illustrations. Despite a poorly organized and confusing introduction written by a group called the Critical Art Ensemble, Pyle's vivid documentation offers a chilling indictment of a long and despicable history of bogus science inflicted for the most part on poor and working-class people. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/29/2001
Release date: 01/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
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