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Pearl S. Buck Style, Daina Ramey Berry and Context of the Cadaver Trade

I have been reading too many books simultaneously. I have become mesmerized by Pearl Buck’s writing style. It seems long , detailed, almost like a conversation. The style has drawn me in, as well as the historical context of 19th C China.

I began reading Buck to try an unpack some of my biases against China. I first read Imperial Woman, that dramatizes some elements of the life of the Emperor Dowager Cixi (Shu-she). Now I have settled on reading alone The Pavilion of Women, to be followed by Peony, a story about the Jews in China. I began reading the last two books simultaneously, but have become captivated by the mind of Madame Wu. I recommend reading any of the many Pearl S. Buck books. I used to take for granted that everyone knew of The Good Earth, but no longer. If you are completely unfamiliar with Buck, start with that book. I you have a passing interest in China, her fiction is verisimilar. There are several good documentaries, and films, about various elements of Chinese history on YouTube.

Completing The Price for Their Pound of Flesh by Daina Ramey Berry was difficult because of the conflicting nature of her study. For me, the story was jaw-dropping. Long interested in the study and practice of forensic pathological science, this study fleshed out the development of medical school organization and practice among, generally speaking, elite white men. That body snatching thing was real, but the victims in this country were the enslaved and poor. Don’t be one of the executed, incarcerated and executed, or unclaimed; battles could possible be wage over the right to your body. This early cadaver trade is the lead-in to our current underground trade in “red flesh” or body parts.

Black Resurrectionists procured, prepared, and presented cadavers, body parts, fetuses, infants, and severed limbs and heads to further anatomical study in the early institutions of medicine. Medical students, poor whites, and any other interested in making some money also participated in this work.

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