The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

I just finished this book after reading nothing else for the past three or four days. It’s riveting and spellbinding, an epic story about an epic disease. Mukherjee is an oncologist himself and his inside knowledge, not to mention his obviously astute research, brings a quiet authority to his tale.

My father died of cancer. So have some of my friends. I also know many survivors of cancer. Most people do, since the disease is so prevalent. This book describes the efforts of scientists and doctors who have struggled to understand and defeat cancer. It details moments of great triumph, and times when the principals displayed poor judgement and dangerous stubbornness. Today many cancers can be cured by medication which takes advantage of what has been learned of the genetic machinations of cancer cells. The Emperor of All Maladies traces the history of how we got to this point and how we might continue from here.

It’s a terrific read. It pulls no punches in relating the misery and death that cancer has wrought. But it also points to a hopeful future when cancer might become a frightening memory rather than a terrifying reality.

Very highly recommended.

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