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Maine Sunday Telegram Book Review

July 22, 2013

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Book Review: Genesio pools action, authenticity in ‘Lamb’s Blood’

By NANCY GRAPE

For his second novel,  Maine writer Jerry Genesio of Bridgton takes readers back to the 1970s to explore the interwoven violence of international power politics and the U.S. commercial blood trade. It’s a fascinating topic and, in Genesio’s hands, it unfolds in a frightening world.

“Lamb’s Blood” exudes a strong sense of authenticity.  Genesio draws on hard-won personal experience as he takes readers into a hidden world they’re not likely to have traveled before. Genesio provides a strong but vulnerable guide in seasoned journalist Mark Marino.

Marino lives up to the role of hero. He has been an international correspondent for a long time, but he is a correspondent who, like so many, is well aware of his vulnerability in the treacherous world he covers.  Years before, we’re told, Marino had allowed officials to lie to him in Vietnam, and he carries a heavy burden for some of the destruction that ensued.

Yet he has not given up on integrity, and he clings to it at the time of this story, 10 years later, when he sees a chance to clear his personal slate and affirm his faith in the power of honest information.

While traveling, he witnesses an assassination attempt and a murder at Washington National Airport and resolves to bring the suspect to justice. It is a quest that puts him in peril and exposes him to greater danger facing the world.

But Marino cannot do it alone.  He needs help. Marino heads first for Boston and a trusted colleague, Tony Rosati, who joins him, along with his daughter Rina. From there, “Lamb’s Blood” shapes itself into a still complex but more bluntly powerful chase story as Marino realizes his quarry is a Green Beret veteran of Vietnam who has successfully run off to Nicaragua.

Marino heads off in pursuit.  And this brings us to some of the best parts of the book. Genesio knows Nicaragua from personal experience and he draws on that experience to lend his book the authenticity that distinguishes it.

Pick up “Lamb’s Blood.”  Give it a read. You’ll know a good bit more about exploitation and abuse as well as the shrouded international worlds of commerce, domination and power when you put it down.

Nancy Grape writes book reviews for The Maine Sunday Telegram.

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“Lamb’s Blood”, by Jerry Genesio, paints a complex and disturbing picture of American involvement in Nicaragua during the Sandinista revolution

June 12, 2013

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“A good historical novel is like an impressionist painting. You get a feeling for the the time, the places and the people. Lamb’s Blood, by Jerry Genesio, paints a complex and disturbing picture of American involvement in Nicaragua during the Sandinista revolution. The main character is a journalist who knowingly let the American government get away with lies about Vietnam and is determined to tell the truth about what is really happening in Nicaragua. The sympathetic characters are well developed and the reader will bond with them easily. The action, intrigue and fast pace will keep the pages turning so quickly that it will be one of those books you are sorry to see end. If we’re lucky, a major publisher will ask him to make it longer.” Review by Maine Man posted on Amazon.com.

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LAMB’S BLOOD dedication

February 15, 2013
Padre Gaspar Garcia Laviana

Fr. Gaspar Garcia Laviana

LAMB’S BLOOD is dedicated to the Roman Catholic priests and nuns throughout Latin America who have followed the path of liberation theology and have stood, both compassionately and defiantly, with the people.

“With rifle in hand, full of faith and full of love for my Nicaraguan people, I will fight to the end for the coming of the reign of justice in our country, that reign of justice which the Messiah announced to us under the light of the Star of Bethlehem. A free country or death!” Fr. Gaspar Garcia Laviano, SS, CC., a Roman Catholic priest of the Congregations of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who was killed in battle with rifle in hand on December 11, 1978, during the Sandinista Revolution.

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Was the U.S. blood industry’s supply of raw plasma flowing in from Latin American and Caribbean countries in the 1970s contaminated with Hepatitis C?

February 5, 2013

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LAMB’S BLOOD is a novel based on a human blood collecting operation in Nicaragua that was exporting its product in huge quantities to U.S. blood industry facilities in the 1970s.

Hepatitis C (HCV) is a contagious liver disease caused by a virus. Those who contract the disease are at risk of developing liver cirrhosis and/or liver cancer. There was no screening test for HCV prior to the 1990s, and it was known the disease was heavily endemic throughout Latin America and the Caribbean region. Nevertheless, the U.S. blood industry was importing raw human blood products from a great many of the Latin American and Caribbean nations in the 1970s and 1980s. Other human blood transmitted diseases include Hepatitis A and B, HIV/AIDS, Chagas, Malaria, West Nile Virus, and others.

LAMB’S BLOOD is now available through Amazon.com, the Kindle Store, and through local independent bookstores.

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Lamb’s Blood: A novel based on the U.S. blood industry and its role in Nicaragua’s Sandinista Revolution during the late 1970s.

January 31, 2013

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Available in softcover at Amazon.com ($10.95) and Kindle ($2.99):  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Jerry+Genesio

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“Cash for Blood” operations in U.S. prisons.

January 21, 2013

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“Cash for Blood” operations weren’t all off shore, but the degree of exploitation within the United States was equal in many ways to the degree of each client’s freedom. Austin R. Stough, a physician from Oklahoma, opened a plasmapheresis center in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in 1962. By the close of 1963, Dr. Stough had similar facilities operating in the Kilby, Draper, and Atmore prisons in Alabama, and another at the Cummins Farm Prison in Arkansas. Unfortunately, the cases of viral hepatitis, an often fatal disease of the liver, began climbing sharply during the same time period and the following year prisoners were dying of infectious hepatitis. The exact number of cases in the five prisons was never established. Many records were never completed, and other simply vanished. Byron Emery, an official of Cutter Laboratories, one of the U.S. blood industries major players at that time, told federal authorities that he was appalled by the conditions he found when he visited an Alabama prison in 1964. He said the plasmapheresis rooms were “sloppy” and that gross contamination of the rooms with donors’ plasma was evident. Emery actually acknowledged that Dr. Stough clearly could not be trusted to properly supervise the program. Nevertheless, Cutter remained one of Dr. Stough’s biggest customers.

inmatesmokingWhen Stough’s operations were finally closed down, he quickly began opening new facilities in some of the same prisons where he used prisoners as guinea pigs to test new drugs for the pharmaceutical industry. According to a New York Times article published in 1969, those companies included the Wyeth Laboratories Division of American Home Products Corporation; the Lederle Laboratories Division of American Cyanamid Company; the Bristol-Myers Company; the E.R. Squibb & Sons Division of Squibb Beach-Nut Inc.; the Merck, Sharp & Dohme Division of Merck & Co.; and the Upjohn Company.

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Hemo-Caribbean sold more than $3 million worth of blood plasma siphoned from Haitians

January 11, 2013

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The U.S. commercial blood industry was actively seeking new and cheaper sources of marketable blood in 1971 when the Haitian government granted Miami-based Hemo-Caribbean a ten year concession to harvest and export blood plasma from Port-au-Prince. The company harvested blood from Haitian donors for $3.00 per liter and shipped it via Air Haiti to the U.S. where it was sold for $23.00 per liter. Air Haiti was partly owned by Luckner Cambronne, at that time Haiti’s Minister of the Interior.

During its first year in business Hemo-Caribbean exported an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 liters of blood plasma monthly operating six days a week and fourteen hours a day. Sales to American distributors alone exceeded $3 million and represented 70,000 pounds of blood plasma siphoned from 170,000 Haitians.

Armour Pharmaceutical, which relied on Hemo-Caribbean for 15 per cent of its total raw blood plasma supply, claimed Haitian plasma was of excellent quality. But many health professionals insisted the Haitian donors were protein deficient and should be receiving rather than selling blood plasma.

Sources: “Now the Blood” by Louis A. Perez, Jr., Progressive, 39-40 Jan 1975; and “Haiti Blood Plasma Curb Poses Problems”, The Afro-American, 6, Jan 13, 1973.