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Book and New Media Reviews
April 1999

Acres of Skin: Human Experimentation at Holmesburg Prison

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by Allen M. Hornblum, 320 pp with black-and-white illustrations, $16, New York, NY, Routledge, 1998.

Arch Dermatol. 1999;135(4):477-478. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Dermatol.-ISSN-0003-987x-135-4-dbk0499

Allen Hornblum's Acres of Skin is a distressing exposé of human experimentation on prisoners that emphasizes the role of dermatologists in such experiments. A printing of the Nuremberg Code, an introduction explaining the author's reasons for writing the book, and a short note on the sources used for it preface the body of the book. The author arrived at Holmesburg prison in 1971 to teach adult literacy and was appalled by the sight of prisoners wearing patches for patch testing. Over the years he investigated human experimentation on prisoners and wrote the book to expose unethical experimentation on prisoners and the silence of the medical community in condemning it. The book is based on interviews of prisoners, staff, and researchers; newspaper and magazine articles; government documents; and published medical journals.

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