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The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer Paperback – August 9, 2011
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“This volume should earn Mukherjee a rightful place alongside Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, and Stephen Hawking in the pantheon of our epoch's great explicators.”—Boston Globe
About the Author
Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, and The Laws of Medicine. He is the editor of Best Science Writing 2013. Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician and researcher. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Times, and Cell. He lives in New York with his wife and daughters. Visit his website at: SiddharthaMukherjee.com
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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 an extremely well written, well planned out and organized book. I'm almost as much in awe of the author's command of the English language as I am of the skill he had in organizing the material. If anyone else were to do a history of cancer, they truly could not match the quality of this book. I say this because the author strikes a perfect balance between focusing on details when needed and focusing on the big picture when needed. And he presents the material in such a way that the key points really stick with you. You walk away with an excellent understanding of the disease - certainly much more than the layman and probably more than some medical professionals - and a comprehensive understanding of how human beings have tried, and continue to try to understand this disease.
I think a lot of people should read this book. First of all to expel the myths and misunderstandings that people have about cancer. Second, to have a much better understanding of doctors and medical profession, including their limitations. And third because we all have been, will be, or know someone who is affected.