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Dr. Folkman's War: Angiogenesis and the Struggle to Defeat Cancer Hardcover – February 6, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (February 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375502440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375502446
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #906,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Early in 1998, New York Times science reporter and author Gina Kolata happened to be seated at a banquet next to the Nobel Prize-winning scientist James Watson. When Kolata asked Watson what was new in the world of science, he replied, "Judah Folkman and angiogenesis, that's what's new. Judah is going to cure cancer in two years."

Folkman, a longtime physician and medical researcher at Harvard University and Children's Hospital, was caught off guard by the excited news reports that followed Watson's remark, but there was good reason for excitement. For nearly four decades, when not busy doing such things as inventing the heart pacemaker and attending to hundreds of patients, Folkman had been puzzling out a peculiarity of tumors: at some point during their formation, they sent forth chemical signals that in effect "recruited" blood vessels to feed them. If those signals could be intercepted through well-targeted drugs, Folkman reasoned, and the blood supply to cancerous formations thus interrupted, then the tumors themselves might be starved to death, or at least to dormancy.

In this book, Newsday writer Robert Cooke offers an accessible account of Folkman's work on angiogenesis, or the formation of blood vessels, which may well point the way to new treatments for cancer and related illnesses. Following Folkman's roundabout trail, one marked by considerable resistance on the part of doubtful colleagues, readers will gain a sense of how medical research is conducted--and, almost certainly, a sense of wonder at the medical breakthroughs that, as James Watson hinted, are just around the corner. --Gregory McNamee

Review

"Judah Folkman's answer-stop cancers by cutting off their blood supplies-has much too long been thought of as too simple to ever work. Now, however, a broad set of antiangiogenic agents based on Judah's ideas are coming on line. The verdict 'cancer' need no longer be synonymous with fear and despair. Our country's 'war against cancer' at last has found its general."
—JAMES D. WATSON, winner of the Nobel Prize and author of The Double Helix

"It is said that genius disdains the beaten path, and that's certainly true of Dr. Judah Folkman. He has suffered for it, but his imagination, his persistence-and yes, his glorious obsession-will benefit us all. We owe him our boundless gratitude."
-JONATHAN HARR, author of A Civil Action

"Rarely in the history of modem biomedical research has a major advance been attributable directly to the energies and vision of a single individual. This is such a story, about one man's vision, drive, indeed obsession with an idea that will one day dramatically change cancer therapy."
-ROBERT A. WEINBERG, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and MIT, author of One Renegade Cell: How Cancer Begins and Racing to the Beginning of the Road: The Search for the Origin of Cancer

"I first encountered Judah Folkman when I was a surgical intern at Boston City Hospital. His already legendary crisp intellect provided a logical scaffold for my understanding of complex diseases. Judah, full of warmth and humanity, inspired me and generations of young doctors and scientists to pursue careers in his image. Dr Folkman's War does a masterly job of describing his gentle and determined magic. We are fortunate that Mr. Cooke has so meticulously, engagingly, and honestly captured Judah's story. It will serve as a powerful beacon for all who tenaciously pursue the understanding and treatment of human disease."
-WARREN M. ZAPOL, Reginald Jenney Professor of Anaesthesia, Harvard Medical School, and anesthetist-in-chief, Massachusetts General Hospital

"Sadly, my first meeting with Dr. Judah Folkman may have and most likely did come too late. We met as I searched desperately for a medical solution to the critical illness of my wife, Winnie, but by then her cancer had advanced beyond salvation. Nonetheless, I was deeply impressed by what I learned of Dr. Folkman's pioneering work in the cancer research field and his personal commitment and that of his close associates to success in this vital effort."
-ARNOLD PALMER

"Robert Cooke is without a doubt the most scrupulous and judicious science writer I have ever known. His strong passion for accuracy and fair play sings from every page of Dr Folkman's War, taking the battle against cancer beyond sensationalism to a place that is at once informative and exciting. Because the book is grounded, as such journalism should be, on solid science, hope sounds from it all the more loudly."
-LAURIE GARRETT, author of Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This is a story of brilliance and persistence.
Johnny Quest
This book is great gives a good understanding of the research community and the search to understand angiogenisis.
R. Lucius
If anyone in your family now has cancer, this book is must reading for you!
Donald Mitchell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book clearly deserves many more than five stars.
Dr. Folkman's War contains many valuable insights including how to: Raise children to be outstanding people; be an astute observer about nature to unlock new lessons; pioneer in a new field of science; and be persistent about something important. When the history of medicine in the twentieth century is written, Dr. Judah Folkman will be considered one of the most important figures. This book is the most accessible and complete source of information about his remarkable life and accomplishments.
Dr. Folkman's research to date "has found applications in twenty-six diseases as varied as cancer, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, psoriasis, arthritis, and endometriosis." "Ordinarily, researchers working in any of these fields do not communicate with each other."
Angiogenesis looks at the way that capillaries are formed in response to the body's biochemistry to help and harm health. Tumors depend on this action to get the blood supply they need to grow. Wounds also rely on a similar mechanism to grow scar tissue.
I have been following Dr. Folkman's career for over twenty-five years, and heard him speak about angiogenesis just a little over two years ago. Because I felt I was well-informed, I almost skipped this book. That would have been a major mistake on my part. Dr. Folkman's War contained much new and interesting information that helped me to better understand the lessons of Dr. Folkman's life, as well as the future implications of angiogenesis.
Unknown to me, Dr. Folkman had also played a role as an innovator in implantable pacemakers, time-released drug implants, and specialized types of heart surgery before he began his serious assault on angiogenesis.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is the extraordinary story of an extraordinary man. Dr. Judah Folkman's approach to fighting cancer, long the subject of derision from the medical and research establishment, is finally bearing fruit. Robert Cooke writes beautifully and clearly, combining a scientific biography of Dr. Folkman with an introduction to anti-angiogenesis. Read this book- when Judah Folkman wins the Nobel Prize, you'll know all about him. (A sidebar- a Amazon customer reviewer, who pans the book, is under the impression that it is written by Dr. C. Everett Koop. It is not. He does however, write the introduction, which ends with these words, "In the end, of course, Judah Folkman's beautiful idea has triumphed over the doubters. A few still persist, but their time will come.")
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By janeyb on February 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Robert Cooke does an amazing job of rendering what could have been a dense scientific discussion of anti-angiogenesis and its role in treating cancer, into an engaging and meaningful discussion that someone without a medical background can easily understand. Cooke aptly chronicles Folkman's career ups and downs, and ably captures the doctor's frustration of being a scientist two decades ahead of his time.
The real message in this book, however, is one of triumph in the face of scorn and ridicule. That Folkman's peers - be they colleagues at Boston's Children's Hospital who sought to have him ousted from his position as Chief of Surgery or to have his laboratory closed, or the anonymous reviewers at the medical journals where he submitted his papers describing his thoughts and findings in anti-angiogenesis who refused to publish his work finding it too implausible, or the conference attendees who would simply walk out of one of his scientific lectures thinking he was a crackpot - could subject him to so much difficulty in pursuing his scientific vision speaks volumes about how we, even in this modern era when we are supposedly more open minded, have trouble dealing with a visionary. Most of us, in Folkman's shoes, would have moved on to something else.
Now that Folkman's ideas have come of age - science finally possesses the tools to validate his work and we are seeing the fruits in clinical trials around the country - I truly hope that his early critics will have the courage to acknowledge their error. As Cooke reminds us, genius can be very hard to recognize. Now that it is upon us, however, shame on those who continue to diminish it.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I'm in med school, and I've heard a lot about Dr. Folkman, so I was curious to read why he's so mythologized. Now I know! This is an inspiring book -- it reminded me how hard you have to work, how brilliant you have to be, and how lucky you have to be just to have a CHANCE to make a huge difference. Dr. Folkman was all three. THe author does a real service, too, in explaining the history of cancer research -- not easy to do in an engaging yet substantive way.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Albert Vara on February 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
When I first started reading the book I thought it was going to be more about Dr. Folkman's life and not about medicine. You quickly realize there is no difference as far as Dr. Flokman is concerned. Medicine has been his life and fortunately for us cancer research his passion. I was stunned to find out he has helped discover; cardiac pacemakers, drug release systems and a cure for an incurable childhood disease all while being a world-renowned pediatric surgeon. These life saving stories will bring tears to your eyes. All this alone would make for a great book without ever mentioning angiogenisis. However, the quest for a major cancer treatment while putting up with the critics and red tape read like a major military battle through which this man has prevailed. You will feel his passion.
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