100 books like Experimentation with Human Beings

By Jay Katz, Alexander Morgan, Eleanor Swift Glass

Here are 100 books that Experimentation with Human Beings fans have personally recommended if you like Experimentation with Human Beings. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Bad Blood

Allen M. Hornblum Author Of Against Their Will: The Secret History of Medical Experimentation on Children in Cold War America

From my list on human experimentation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began working in prisons 50 years ago. I was just out of grad school and I accepted the challenge of starting a literacy program in the Philadelphia Prison System. The shock of cellblock life was eye-opening, but the most unexpected revelation was the sight of scores of inmates wrapped in bandages and medical tape. Unknown to the general public, the three city prisons had become a lucrative appendage of the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School. As I would discover years later, thousands of imprisoned Philadelphians had been used in a cross-section of unethical and dangerous scientific studies running the gamut from simple hair dye and athlete’s foot trials to radioactive isotope, dioxin, and US Army chemical warfare studies. My account of the prison experiments, Acres of Skin, helped instill in me an abiding faith in well-researched journalism as an antidote to societal indiscretions and crimes.

Allen's book list on human experimentation

Allen M. Hornblum Why did Allen love this book?

This in-depth account of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study is considered a classic in the field of medical ethics. Though Greg Dober and I have recently discovered the true origins of the Public Health Service’s “non-treatment study” and former Surgeon General Thomas Parran’s critical role in the ugly saga, Jones’s book is still the best chronicle available, and lays out a devastating narrative of how a sophisticated but uncaring and racist scientific establishment could annually examine and not treat hundreds of unschooled Alabama sharecroppers suffering from a deadly disease. 

By James H. Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bad Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From 1932 to 1972, the United States Public Health Service conducted a non-therapeutic experiment involving over 400 black male sharecroppers infected with syphilis. The Tuskegee Study had nothing to do with treatment. It purpose was to trace the spontaneous evolution of the disease in order to learn how syphilis affected black subjects. The men were not told they had syphilis; they were not warned about what the disease might do to them; and, with the exception of a smattering of medication during the first few months, they were not given health care. Instead of the powerful drugs they required, they…


Book cover of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present

JJ Savaunt Author Of Barren

From my list on detecting bullsh*t.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing is my life. As a child I wrote poems, scripts, and short stories. A couple of decades, a BCALA literary award, and a three-book deal later, my wild imagination has grown into a passion for exposing the truth. In 2020, a third of the 300,000 missing women in the United States were Black, and in that same year, I was almost a victim of human trafficking myself. With this second chance, I write to bring awareness and attention to women who cannot speak for themselves. I write to shed light on the truth and these five books have helped me on my journey.  

JJ's book list on detecting bullsh*t

JJ Savaunt Why did JJ love this book?

Did you know that 75% of bones in the human body are found below the knee? I thought that was interesting as well… if only it were true! This book taught me to critically assess data and not blindly accept every ‘scientific-sounding’ statement as truth. Medical Apartheid details the origins of several medical innovations which shockingly date back to slavery. The things doctors once considered permissible to do to enslaved women on the basis that ‘they did not feel pain’ brought literal tears to my eyes, but it was necessary for me to read because it shared the truth. A horrible, terrifying truth that pharmaceutical giants—like Pfizer—refuse to acknowledge to this day. 

By Harriet A. Washington,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Medical Apartheid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • The first full history of Black America’s shocking mistreatment as unwilling and unwitting experimental subjects at the hands of the medical establishment. No one concerned with issues of public health and racial justice can afford not to read this masterful book.

"[Washington] has unearthed a shocking amount of information and shaped it into a riveting, carefully documented book." —New York Times

From the era of slavery to the present day, starting with the earliest encounters between Black Americans and Western medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience that resulted, Medical Apartheid details the ways…


Book cover of The Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War

Allen M. Hornblum Author Of Against Their Will: The Secret History of Medical Experimentation on Children in Cold War America

From my list on human experimentation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began working in prisons 50 years ago. I was just out of grad school and I accepted the challenge of starting a literacy program in the Philadelphia Prison System. The shock of cellblock life was eye-opening, but the most unexpected revelation was the sight of scores of inmates wrapped in bandages and medical tape. Unknown to the general public, the three city prisons had become a lucrative appendage of the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School. As I would discover years later, thousands of imprisoned Philadelphians had been used in a cross-section of unethical and dangerous scientific studies running the gamut from simple hair dye and athlete’s foot trials to radioactive isotope, dioxin, and US Army chemical warfare studies. My account of the prison experiments, Acres of Skin, helped instill in me an abiding faith in well-researched journalism as an antidote to societal indiscretions and crimes.

Allen's book list on human experimentation

Allen M. Hornblum Why did Allen love this book?

Welsome investigates a particularly repugnant episode in medical history; doctors secretly injecting hospital patients with plutonium as part of the Manhattan Project. Designed to weigh the increased threat of cancer during the outset of the atomic era, the book navigates the governmental and scientific concerns of a new nuclear world, the prestigious players who argued for human experimentation, and the unwitting victims - all hospital patients - who’d be used as test material. In addition, Welsome also explores other Cold War examples of atomic abuse such as “radioactive cocktails” given to pregnant women and radioactive breakfast cereal given to five and six-year-old “morons” at state institutions. 

By Eileen Welsome,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Plutonium Files as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a Massachusetts school, seventy-three disabled children were spoon fed radioactive isotopes along with their morning oatmeal....In an upstate New York hospital, an eighteen-year-old woman, believing she was being treated for a pituitary disorder, was injected with plutonium by Manhattan Project doctors....At a Tennessee prenatal clinic, 829 pregnant women were served "vitamin cocktails"--in truth, drinks containing radioactive iron--as part of their prenatal treatmen....

In 1945, the seismic power of atomic energy was already well known to researchers, but the effects of radiation on human beings were not. Fearful that plutonium would cause a cancer epidemic among workers, Manhattan Project doctors…


Book cover of Strangers at the Bedside: A History of How Law and Bioethics Transformed Medical Decision Making

Allen M. Hornblum Author Of Against Their Will: The Secret History of Medical Experimentation on Children in Cold War America

From my list on human experimentation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began working in prisons 50 years ago. I was just out of grad school and I accepted the challenge of starting a literacy program in the Philadelphia Prison System. The shock of cellblock life was eye-opening, but the most unexpected revelation was the sight of scores of inmates wrapped in bandages and medical tape. Unknown to the general public, the three city prisons had become a lucrative appendage of the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School. As I would discover years later, thousands of imprisoned Philadelphians had been used in a cross-section of unethical and dangerous scientific studies running the gamut from simple hair dye and athlete’s foot trials to radioactive isotope, dioxin, and US Army chemical warfare studies. My account of the prison experiments, Acres of Skin, helped instill in me an abiding faith in well-researched journalism as an antidote to societal indiscretions and crimes.

Allen's book list on human experimentation

Allen M. Hornblum Why did Allen love this book?

Rothman was one of the first to examine the culture of research medicine and its relationship to science and American culture at large. Doctors on the cutting edge of new procedures, much desired medical elixirs, and scientific advancement used a utilitarian calculus to determine what was ethical and what the public was willing to accept. Scientific breakthroughs were celebrated with few - certainly no one of renown - taking notice that the breakthroughs were coming at the expense of vulnerable, powerless populations.

By David J. Rothman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strangers at the Bedside as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

David Rothman gives us a brilliant, finely etched study of medical practice today. Beginning in the mid-1960s, the practice of medicine in the United States underwent a most remarkable--and thoroughly controversial--transformation. The discretion that the profession once enjoyed has been increasingly circumscribed, and now an almost bewildering number of parties and procedures participate in medical decision making.

Well into the post-World War II period, decisions at the bedside were the almost exclusive concern of the individual physician, even when they raised fundamental ethical and social issues. It was mainly doctors who wrote and read about the morality of withholding a…


Book cover of The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide

Burt Weissbourd Author Of Rough Justice

From my list on character-driven thrillers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write character-driven thrillers, including my latest novel: Rough Justice. How did I come to write psychological character-driven thrillers? It began years ago when I went to Hollywood in 1977. This was the New Hollywood (1967 -1980), and I worked with writers whose work grabbed viewers viscerally, not with explosions but with multi-dimensional characters that would draw you into a deeply moving story. I spent countless hours working out the stories and shaping the people in them. Working closely with these great screenwriters was a rare opportunity to learn how to create complicated characters and to see how these complex people enriched storytelling.

Burt's book list on character-driven thrillers

Burt Weissbourd Why did Burt love this book?

This is an unsettling, deeply disturbing book. I put it on my list because I worked with Bob Lifton (Robert Jay Lifton) in a tutorial for 2 years at Yale. He was a student of unthinkable disasters, atrocities (Hiroshima, Thought Reform and the psychology of Totalism, Nazi Doctors to name a few). For over two years, we met together regularly to discuss and try to understand what was happening in contemporary American culture, and how it was changing during the late 1960s, particularly among young people. We talked about political unrest, the Vietnam war and the Bobby Seale Black Panther trial in New Haven, the student strike and the May Day, 1970 rally, including memorable appearances by the Chicago Seven, thousands of Panther supporters, and observed by the 82nd Airborne Division. He, and his book, helped me sort out how unthinkable things could happen, and he helped me come…

By Robert Jay Lifton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Nazi Doctors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his most powerful and important book, renowned psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton presents a brilliant analysis of the crucial role that German doctors played in the Nazi genocide. Now updated with a new preface, The Nazi Doctors remains the definitive work on the Nazi medical atrocities, a chilling expose of the banality of evil at its epitome, and a sobering reminder of the darkest side of human nature.


Book cover of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Mary Shanklin Author Of American Castle: One Hundred Years of Mar-a-Lago

From my list on nonfiction with fantastic storytelling.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a lifelong journalist, I’m riveted by stories that dissect actual events. Nonfiction is my wheelhouse and I’m fortunate to have a related body of distinguished work. Over the decades, I’ve written for exceptional newspaper and magazine editors who taught me the craft of making reality not only engaging – but also meaningful. Instead of ignoring the not-so-convenient truths – details that might be swept away by a historical fiction writer – I hunt for them. My coverage of inequities, hurricanes, and real estate scams has taught me: show, don’t tell. Any author who can take a mountain of interviews, details, facts and color and transform it into a thought-provoking story, they have my attention. 

Mary's book list on nonfiction with fantastic storytelling

Mary Shanklin Why did Mary love this book?

Only dogged research could unearth the story of how one Black woman’s death – and the harvesting of her cells – could change the course of medical research.

It is a story of how some innocuous biological matter could grow into a hothouse of excess. Pharma companies enriched themselves reproducing the cells of Henrietta Lacks but did little or nothing for the family who lost their matriarch.  

For me, this book unleashed the idea of shaping deep research into a story can change our view of society.

By Rebecca Skloot,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an introduction by author of The Tidal Zone, Sarah Moss

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. Born a poor black tobacco farmer, her cancer cells - taken without her knowledge - became a multimillion-dollar industry and one of the most important tools in medicine. Yet Henrietta's family did not learn of her 'immortality' until more than twenty years after her death, with devastating consequences . . .

Rebecca Skloot's fascinating account is the story of the life, and afterlife, of one woman who changed the medical world for ever. Balancing the beauty and drama…


Book cover of Orphan #8

Marlene Trestman Author Of Most Fortunate Unfortunates: The Jewish Orphans' Home of New Orleans

From my list on orphans and orphanages for children and adults.

Why am I passionate about this?

A former special assistant to Maryland’s attorney general, I reluctantly gave up my three-decade legal career to tell two remarkable stories I was uniquely qualified to tell. Orphaned at age 11, I grew up in New Orleans as a foster care client of the Jewish Children’s Regional Service, the agency that formerly ran the orphanage in which my mentor, legal trailblazer Bessie Margolin, was raised. It was also the orphanage in which I would've been raised had it not closed in 1946. During the time I spent with Bessie Margolin she inspired me to both become her future biographer and go on to write the first comprehensive history of the nation’s earliest purpose-built Jewish orphanage.

Marlene's book list on orphans and orphanages for children and adults

Marlene Trestman Why did Marlene love this book?

Kim Van Alkemade wrote this New York Times bestselling novel based upon a series of real-life experiences, including those of her great-grandmother who worked as a counselor in New York’s Hebrew Orphan Asylum.

Orphan #8 is a powerful and unforgettable book about Rachel, who after being placed in New York’s Hebrew Infant Home, is subjected to experimental radiation treatments as Dr. Mildred Solomon bolsters her medical reputation at the expense of the little girl’s health.

The story focuses on Rachel, now an adult nurse, when Dr. Solomon becomes her patient. Given the widespread popularity of this book, I know I was not the only reader riveted by Rachel’s choice between compassion and retribution, and the extraordinary human capacity to cause harm and to love. 

By Kim van Alkemade,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Orphan #8 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this stunning new historical novel inspired by true events, Kim van Alkemade tells the fascinating story of a woman who must choose between revenge and mercy when she encounters the doctor who subjected her to dangerous medical experiments in a New York City Jewish orphanage years before. In 1919, Rachel Rabinowitz is a vivacious four-year-old living with her family in a crowded tenement on New York City's Lower Eastside. When tragedy strikes, Rachel is separated from her brother Sam and sent to a Jewish orphanage where Dr. Mildred Solomon is conducting medical research. Subjected to X-ray treatments that leave…


Book cover of Bluebird

Addison Armstrong Author Of The Light of Luna Park

From my list on New York City past to present.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up thinking I liked reading about NYC more than I’d like living there. It was too hectic and loud for a bookworm like me, I thought, too dirty and dangerous. Then my husband was accepted to Cornell’s MD/PhD program, and we moved to Manhattan. Immediately, I found that while the city is as dirty as I’d feared (and it smells), its advantages far outweigh the rest. I can’t get enough of the parks, museums, food, diversity, or the history, much of which drives The Light of Luna Park. So, without further ado, here are my five favorite books that take place in New York from the 1800s to today.

Addison's book list on New York City past to present

Addison Armstrong Why did Addison love this book?

Bluebird by Sharon Cameron took my breath away. It’s a thriller, a mystery, a romance, and the best type of historical fiction all rolled up together, and though it’s officially young adult, it’s too good for adults to pass up. The novel follows a German girl named Eva who flees Germany for New York City in 1946 seeking justice as much as safety. The daughter of a Nazi mastermind, Eva is hunting down her father for reasons both personal and political, and her journey is filled with both physical and psychological danger. Bluebird is fast-paced and fascinating, as well as thought-provoking and full of well-researched history on everything from Nazi propaganda to Quaker humanitarian relief in New York City. 

By Sharon Cameron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bluebird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Author of Reese's Book Club YA Pick The Light in Hidden Places, Sharon Cameron, delivers an emotionally gripping and utterly immersive thriller, perfect for fans of Ruta Sepetys's Salt to the Sea.

In 1946, Eva leaves behind the rubble of Berlin for the streets of New York City, stepping from the fiery aftermath of one war into another, far colder one, where power is more important than principles, and lies are more plentiful than the truth. Eva holds the key to a deadly secret: Project Bluebird -- a horrific experiment of the concentration camps, capable of tipping the balance of…


Book cover of Fear Nothing

Miranda Kate Author Of Dead Lake

From my list on horror and feeding your horror habit.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who writes across genres, but everything has a dark edge. As a reader, I want to be able to relate, engage, and connect in some way to the characters and story, but as I come from an abusive childhood, that means they can’t be light and fluffy; there has to be something off-kilter and warped because that reflects how my life has been. In my own writing, I try to do the same and create something that is emotive and real while still allowing the reader to escape. I originate from Surrey, in the south of England, but I have lived in the Netherlands since 2002.

Miranda's book list on horror and feeding your horror habit

Miranda Kate Why did Miranda love this book?

This book was my introduction to this famous horror author, and though occasionally Koontz gets repetitive with his characters and storylines, this was something out of the ordinary.

We have a character that can only go out at night, and we have non-human escapees from a military research institute. A perfect mix for a gripping read, although for me, I was sold on the friendships and relationships in this book.

The lead character’s pet dog and his rich surfer dude friend and how they all interact with each other adds humour and lightness to a truly scary story that involves genetically modified animals who can understand humans. Again a supernatural and out-of-the-box story idea that kept me enthralled and made it stand out.

By Dean Koontz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fear Nothing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you delight in the suspense of Stephen King and The Stranger by Harlan Coben chilled you to the bone (in the best possible way), you'll love Fear Nothing - the classic thriller by Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz. 'Not just a master of our darkest dreams but also a literary juggler' - The Times.

I have been one acquainted with the night.

Christopher Snow is athletic, handsome enough, intelligent, romantic, funny. But his whole life has been affected by xeroderma pigmentosum, a rare genetic disorder that means his skin and eyes cannot be exposed…


Book cover of Unwieldy Creatures

Daniel Olivas Author Of Chicano Frankenstein

From my list on books by BIPOC writers that will scare the living daylights out of you.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my 25 years of writing short stories, novels, and plays, I have explored my Mexican and Chicano roots in a variety of genres, from literary fiction to horror to magical realism to science fiction and everything in between. In the end, I do not discriminate when it comes to genre because a well-told story is key for me, regardless of the mode chosen by the author. My most recent novel, Chicano Frankenstein, is a case in point. In it, I blend genres: horror, science fiction, political satire, and a bit of romance. So, too, I love reading fiction that bravely challenges conventional storytelling.

Daniel's book list on books by BIPOC writers that will scare the living daylights out of you

Daniel Olivas Why did Daniel love this book?

I had already sold my novel when my publisher highly recommended that I read this book, which—like my own novel—is a modern retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I devoured it in two sittings.

Tsai’s story is a biracial, queer, gender-fluid retelling that modernizes and expands Shelley’s themes of alienation and the dangers of unchecked scientific experimentation.

While Tsai explores such weighty themes as gender identity, racism, and medical ethics, there is no skimping on the horror that will haunt your dreams.

By Addie Tsai,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unwieldy Creatures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2022 Shirley Jackson Award


Unwieldy Creatures, a biracial, queer, nonbinary retelling of Mary Shelley's classic novel Frankenstein, follows the story of three beings who all navigate life from the margins: Plum, a queer biracial Chinese intern at one of the world's top embryology labs, who runs away from home to openly be with her girlfriend only to be left on her own; Dr. Frank, a queer biracial Indonesian scientist, who compromises everything she claims to love in the name of science and ambition when she sets out to procreate without sperm or egg; and Dr. Frank's nonbinary…


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