Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich
Alternately fascinating, horrifying, and heartbreaking, this is the story of Henry Molaison – or “Patient H.M.” – the most studied human research subject of all time. In 1953, Molaison underwent surgery to correct his epilepsy and was left unable to form any long-term memories, turning him into a highly sought-after test subject. The surgeon who botched Molaison’s procedure was the grandfather of Dittrich, the author, which puts a whole different spin on the story. As well as telling Molaison’s story, Dittrich delves into his own family’s past, and covers the history of neurosurgery and the various ways the brain has been studied – with or without the test subject’s consent. It’s like Ira Glass wrote a season of ‘American Horror Story.’ This book is utterly fascinating, and not always easy to read, but it is sure to stay with you for a long time.
Backlist bump: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot