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Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and AIDS: A Scientific Life & Times of Peter H. Duesberg 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1556435317
ISBN-10: 1556435312
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Bialy weaves the science with personal and historical reflections to produce an appealing text comprehensible to even a nonspecialist reader."
-Nature Biotechnology, July 2004

"A well-told tale with the incorruptible humor of its protagonist - head and shoulders above the competition."
Kary Mullis, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1993

"...one of my favorite books...Though centered on one man, it speaks to issues of power in the scientific establishment that will outlive Bialy and his hero. ...Bialy fills his book with direct quotes, allowing a number of the unsavory characters in this story to hoist themselves by their own inelegant petards. In the courage of both scientist and author, I see greatness."
—Kary B. Mullis, Nobel laureate, in Discover Magazine, November 2006

About the Author

Harvey Bialy is a resident scholar at the Insitute of Biotechnology of the Autonomous National University of Mexico and formerly a postdoctoral-fellow of the Damon Runyon Foundation for Cancer Research. He is also the founding scientific editor of Nature Biotechnology and a member of South Africa's Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books; 1 edition (July 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556435312
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556435317
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,569,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. B. Mullis on August 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS, A Scientific Life and Times of Peter H. Duesberg

by Harvey Bialy

reviewed by Kary Mullis

Why has Peter Duesberg, one of the smartest, imaginative, hard working, and honest biological scientists of the last fifty years, had such a rough time convincing other people and spreading his irrefutably superior ideas in the areas of cancer and AIDS? Why is Peter not incredibly successful and loved as an indefatigable thinker and keeper of the scientific faith? It is a mystery why this man is not a famous and well-funded director of an influential institute leading our young scientists.

Harvey Bialy has been around Peter and molecular biology for forty odd years, observing and collecting notes, and now he tells the intriguing story. I think it is important, because Peter is one in a million never to be repeated again.

His story, predicted by Jean-Paul Sartre when he pronounced somewhere that we all make our own hell out of the people around us, is told up-close and brilliantly by Bialy.

It is about humans taking on a vast responsibility, with the usual suspects - money, glory, and stubbornness. Unfortunately only an insignificant fraction of them seem concerned with the mission of saving lives. Bialy tries to remember it all, with some of the raw edges chewed back by time as he wisely allows the unsavory characters to hoist on their own inelegant petards.

It is a well-told tale with the humor of a sympathetic observer, a humor that reminds me not a little of the same incorruptible humor of his protagonist, Peter Duesberg - head and shoulders above the competition in so many ways, but unable to pull it off.
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Format: Paperback
Many of the recent reviews posted on this page have been criticisms written by people who show no evidence of actually having read this book, but rather feel compelled to attack the book for the mere fact that it reports Duesberg's controversial (but compelling) views on HIV and AIDS.

Although some of the book's devastating - and fascinating - moments do indeed come when Bialy is exposing some of the more distasteful tactics behind what is surely the most politicized medical issue in history, by focusing on AIDS, many reviews will likely draw attention to a book that is equally important for what it reveals regarding the politics, and the science, of cancer research.

Beginning with Peter Duesberg's unwelcome criticisms of the single gene mutation theory of carcinogenesis and leaving the reader with an introduction to the current theory of aneuploidy on which Duesberg now focuses his attention, Bialy weaves a tale of the man and his mission, which is simply to find out truth. Would that so many scientists have similar motives.

Bialy does his readers the service of never insulting their intelligence, so be warned that this book does get technical at times, but it's worth the effort. Unexpectedly, it's also quite funny and had me laughing aloud at times.
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Format: Paperback
The embroilment of Harvey Bialy and Peter Duesberg in controversy came to our attention when we read George Miklos' glowing review of Bialy's book. Mentally meticulous Miklos, a colleague and a hard-nosed critic (even of our own scientific work) is a focused, profoundly educated cell biologist. We read Bialy with scepticism but with the open-mindedness mandated by the severity of criticism both Bialy's book and Miklos' review provoked. Demand for evidence and criticism are intrinsic to the scientific enterprise.

Bialy's message in his hotly contested book Oncogenes, aneuploidy, and AIDS. A scientific life & times of Peter H. Duesberg is of crucial importance to everyone with an interest in the science that should underlie the practice of medicine. "Oncogenes" are defined as "cancer-causing genes", "aneuploidy" refers to any anomalous number and arrangement of chromosomes in a nucleated (plant, animal, protist or fungal) cell. AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) refers to an illness, a constellation of opportunistic infections and pathologies in a patient with diminished capacity for production of the repertoire of antibodies typical of healthy people. In 1984 a virus now named the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) was announced to be the cause of AIDS. Duesberg disagrees. Duesberg's accessible, comprehensive and scientific book, Inventing the AIDS Virus that explains why is more an epiphenomenon of the controversy than its cause. Bialy defends Peter Duesberg.

Duesberg's real sin, as Bialy reports, was his review paper in the most prestigious scientific journal in the United States, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) that questioned the data and interpretations claimed to prove that.
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8 Comments 72 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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One thing this remarkable book makes clear is that AIDS is a scientific mess. There is no good science behind the "HIV is the cause of AIDS" ideology that now drives billions in spending around the world to combat illnesses of all kinds which are now labeled AIDS. And whether the medications prescribed are appropriate or whether they cause liver disease and death in themselves is a life or death matter for millions. Yet the scientific objections to HIV of the impeccably rigorous Peter Duesberg, repeated with ever greater force in peer reviewed journals over the years, have made no political headway. There have been twelve serious books, including Duesberg's, pointing to this vast scandal, and all have been blithely ignored by the establishment. Also ignored is his skewering of the fundamentals of oncogene research, the richly fashionable field Duesberg himself pioneered, then renounced.

If anything makes a difference in AIDS politics, though, this revelatory scientific biography of Duesberg will. Bialy is the founding scientific editor of Nature Biotechnology and he lays out the uncompromising scientific argument blow by blow as it was conducted in the journals. He also shows the reader what happened behind the scenes - how many extra fences Duesberg was forced to jump over to get his views reluctantly validated and published. Lethal political pressures were brought to bear.
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