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Hard to Forget: An Alzheimer's Story Hardcover – April 25, 2000

4.9 out of 5 stars 12 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One day Pierce's father, John, left his home in Massachusetts on an errand. He wound up three days later in a Vermont jail. The police assumed from his confused state that he was intoxicated. In actuality, he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease--a fact that both Pierce (a writer-at-large for Esquire and a regular contributor to National Public Radio) and his mother long refused to acknowledge: "I felt the truth bending inside me, turning the last three mad days into some familiar shape, and I realized what I was feeling was the comfort of denial." Pierce makes a notable contribution to the growing literature on this affliction by combining a family memoir with an overview of Alzheimer's history since its discovery in 1906 by Alois Alzheimer and of the state of current research into the genetic causes of the disease. Among the scientists whose work Pierce covers are Allen Roses and Peter Hyslop, whom he labels the "Genome Cowboys" and who, Pierce claims, failed to receive due credit for their discovery of an early-onset gene because of rivalry in the scientific community. The author poignantly describes how he detached himself emotionally from his father's worsening condition and how this detachment affected his wife, Margaret, and children. Margaret was the sole family member who accepted her father-in-law's disease and tried to combat her mother-in-law's consistent denial. Pierce himself is at great risk for Alzheimer's--in addition to his father, three uncles died of the disease--but, as yet, he admits, he has not been tested. He has, however, overcome his resistance to the truth and in so doing has crafted this excellent memoir. Author tour. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Shortly before Memorial Day in 1985, Pierce's 70-year-old father went to the florist to buy flowers for the family graves. Three days later, he was found by police sitting in his car in Montpelier, VT, 250 miles away from his Massachusetts home, unable to remember his name or telephone number. Soon afterward he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's--a diagnosis that the family, especially Pierce's mother, refused to accept. Beneath the author's denial lurked the fear that he, too, would become a victim of the disease--his father's four brothers also died from it. A writer for Esquire, the Boston Globe, and GQ, Pierce used his journalistic skills to learn everything he could about the disease's history and prognosis and the search for its genetic links--while witnessing his father's decline. His book is a fascinating account of the fierce competition among the "genome cowboys" (the cutting-edge scientists racing to be first to identify new Alzheimer's genes). Although his genetic explanations are somewhat murky, Pierce's writing talents and his revelations of the darker side of genetic research and of families struggling to make sense of this devastating disorder make for a refreshing change from most feel-good, first-person Alzheimer's accounts. Highly recommended for aging collections.
-Karen McNally Bensing, Benjamin Rose Inst., Cleveland
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1 pounds
  • Hardcover : 256 pages
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0679452911
  • ISBN-10 : 0679452915
  • Dimensions : 6.25 x 1 x 9.75 inches
  • Publisher : Random House; First Edition (April 25, 2000)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.9 out of 5 stars 12 ratings

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