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The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer Paperback – August 9, 2011
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2010: "In 2010, about six hundred thousand Americans, and more than 7 million humans around the world, will die of cancer." With this sobering statistic, physician and researcher Siddhartha Mukherjee begins his comprehensive and eloquent "biography" of one of the most virulent diseases of our time. An exhaustive account of cancer's origins, The Emperor of All Maladies illustrates how modern treatments--multi-pronged chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, as well as preventative care--came into existence thanks to a century's worth of research, trials, and small, essential breakthroughs around the globe. While The Emperor of All Maladies is rich with the science and history behind the fight against cancer, it is also a meditation on illness, medical ethics, and the complex, intertwining lives of doctors and patients. Mukherjee's profound compassion--for cancer patients, their families, as well as the oncologists who, all too often, can offer little hope--makes this book a very human history of an elusive and complicated disease. --Lynette Mong
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Mukherjee's magisterial history of cancer research is poorly served by Stephen Hoye's impersonal, tone-deaf narration. Mukherjee is a practicing oncologist, and his is a deeply personal account, replete with stories of his own patients and practice, that begs for an intimate reading. But Hoye is pedantic, dry, stentorian-everything that this book isn't-and his newscaster's delivery cannot convey the author's compassion for his patients or the suspense and thrill of scientific discovery that the book so brilliantly describes. A Scribner hardcover. (Nov.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top customer reviews
When you are told you have cancer you are bewildered. You are also very angry. I asked myself was there something I had done in my past that was going to deprive me seeing my two sons grow up into happy young men and dads. The first two weeks go by in a weird nightmare. Day 17 your hair falls out. Your peeing orange from the chemo drugs, which have put me off lucozade for life. You double check all your insurances are up to date and update a well to make sure my wife does not have any hassles with the tax authorities. At the age of 44 you are very angry. You realise you are likely going to die. You are angry because you have no idea what is doing it. What you planned for when you were older is all meaningless. But, thanks to certain stubbornness and amazing treatment and care, and a generous sift of life from a German donor of life giving stem cells, I am alive.
This book helps explain many of the questions I had. It does it in a way that makes sense if you don't have a degree in science. What was until recently a death sentence is no longer the case. The battle against cancer was waged by intrepid individuals, and this book explains the war so far. It outlines the causes of cancer, whether it is a virus, bacteria, induced by smoking or chemicals, or just our own body playing up and turning on itself. It explains how our own understanding is still basic but advancing year by year, and treatments, if not cures, are being found for many, although not all cancers.
I learned that was once a death sentence is not the case today. I am looking forward to see my sons become men. This book gave me clarity, it gave me hope.
This is the only book I would recommend wholeheartedly to anyone. If you have been touched by cancer and want to know more about the history, definitions, and prognosis for cancer research and treatment, you can do no better than to start here. If you've worked in the cancer community, this book will connect the dots of things you were sure you understood previously. Or at least what you know will be stated more clearly. If you enjoy good writing and don't necessarily think you have an interest in cancer, you will revel in the Mukherjee's prose. Good oncologists are a dime a dozen, so to speak, but few if any have yet been able to clearly communicate such a misunderstood topic as the author does here.
This book won't help to find a cure for cancer, but it helps explain why that is the wrong way to look at it. It is about cancers (plural) and each case is unique. And cautious, realistic optimism is justified in many cases.
undertaken without informing many of them of the risks, benefits, & unknowns. Seen another way, it's a history of medical hubris, mutilation and poisoning in the name of "saving" (usually prolonging by a few months) lives and advancing science. Mukherjee expresses empathy for suffering patients -- and the reader supplies his own feelings and questions - but some of the most driven scientists Mukherjee follows seem to lose sight of the human being whose body became a battleground in the war between cancer and the doctor. But then, I'm not through yet, and I don't know if he addresses the alternative of simply accepting fate, making the last months as good as possible, and facing death. I liked finding out which cancers now have good treatment track records, and which ones remain so widely incurable that for the majority of sufferers, referral to hospice or palliative care may be more realistic and humane than aggressive treatment. (And in some cases, it even produces longer survival times.)
I'm happily chewing my way through. He''s a great writer and knows how to maintain drama and suspense, weaving together an enormous cast of characters without getting me lost. Never polemical. A masterwork.
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