Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 2011
Winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2011
A comprehensive history of cancer - one of the greatest enemies of medical progress - and an insight into its effects and potential cures, by a leading expert on the illness.
In The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee, doctor, researcher and award-winning science writer, examines cancer with a cellular biologist's precision, a historian's perspective, and a biographer's passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with - and perished from - for more than five thousand years.
The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience and perseverance, but also of hubris, arrogance and misperception, all leveraged against a disease that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out 'war against cancer'. Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories and deaths, told through the eyes of predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary.
From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave cut off her malignant breast, to the nineteenth-century recipient of primitive radiation and chemotherapy and Mukherjee's own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through toxic, bruising, and draining regimes to survive and to increase the store of human knowledge.
Riveting and magisterial, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments and a brilliant new perspective on the way doctors, scientists, philosophers and lay people have observed and understood the human body for millennia.
©2011 HarperCollins Publishers Limited (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
Judith Corstjens Author of: Xtensity, Why 5% of Dieters Succeed; Storewars: The Battle for Mindspace and Shelfspace; Strategic Advertising
Brilliant book - I can't remember what prompted me to choose this but I am so glad I did. It is really three books - a gripping novel, a scientific history, and an ethical work out. Would you have tortuously prolonged the lives of children you couldn't cure? No? Then you would not have discovered the cure to childhood leukemia! Ouch. All the amazing hopes and setbacks that have been cancer research in the past 30 years must have been reported in the news, yet remained peripheral to my consciousness. Wonderful author-doctor to have brought it all to centre stage.
This is a remarkable book - original, full of humanity, incredibly educational and very interesting. It traces a journey of long standing human effort to battle one of the most devastating diseases - cancer - the struggles encountered, unexpected finds as well as hard won victories. The author has conducted an impressive research into the topic, and his book is full of fascinating details, both scientific as well as personal touches. His use of language is makes it a real literary pleasure to read, even though the material is at times very complex (and on occasions little difficult to follow, especially the latter part), and the structure of the book is incredibly well thought-through, joining personal touch, with scientific information and philosophical reflections. One of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. However, as the book is full of scientific details to process, I personally would have found paper version easier to follow than audio version, although the narration was excellent and very clear.
Every one of us suffers from cancer at some time in our life: if we escape it ourselves, we have a close friend, or a family member, who goes through it.
Dr. Mukherjee explains what it is like to be a cancer specialist in modern medicine, and also takes us through an interesting history of the disease:- particularly its recent prominence and our limited success in dealing with it.
This is information which everyone will need at some stage. I would recommend the book to any friend, but especially those over 40.
Dr Mukherjee begins with thread of personal anecdote about his own medical specialisation, and what cancer 'means' to his patients.
He then develops an informative history of cancer research, and cancer treatments, but never loses sight of how every cancer is a private battle, and a personal tragedy.
Keeping non-fiction real this way is a rare skill, but a needed one.
Stephen Hoye manages some very technical points and vocabulary very well (the book avoids specialist language as far as possible, but no further). Hoye's delivery of what is sometimes quite dense text manages to be slow enough to be clear, but brisk enough to stay riveting.
The topic could easily have been dry, and might have been disheartening. An excellent author and a skilled narrator keep the book interesting and surprisingly upbeat.
This is a topic that needs to be absorbed slowly and thoroughly, and at one's own pace.
I can't imagine it as the basis for a successful ninety minutes entertainment.
Will read anything within reason.
I chose this book on the recommendation of other reviewers but also because I decided I needed to make some sense of the vast body of information and mis-information about this disease. When people say in all seriousness that a certain celebrity could have cured his cancer by smoking cannabis, we need to take stock. This book was written with the objective of explaining to a cancer patient exactly what he is up against. The doctor writes with honesty and integrity. False hope is not given but as the history and scientific explanation develops, you are left with a sense of admiration for all that has been achieved so far and the feeling that we as humans have many powerful allies fighting for us. Cancer is not one disease but a group of diseases that share one characteristic. This is why it is so difficult to cure, but we should take comfort in the fact that we are alive today. In my lifetime cancer has moved for an almost certain death sentence to something that can be contained and lived with. We are indeed fortunate to live in a world where pain can be controlled and treatment is based on science and not dangerous quackery. There are many valuable lessons to be learned here (giving up smoking being key) and I think this is essential reading/listening for people who don't want to bury their heads in the sand.
A tour the force that combines literature and science in an unseen way. The author captures the stories of the numerous patients involves in a beautiful and respectful way. Single a must read.
Mukherjee writes from the front lines of the war against cancer. He is clearly both passionate and knowledgeable about his subject, and is a great story teller, weaving patient tales in amongst his historic account of progress in understanding and tackling the disease.
I wouldn't have read this - it's a very long book - but it has been perfect to listen to …. very well read and a most interesting and intriguing history of cancer. I had never - naively - realised all the politics of medical science and found this an added source of interest.
Whatever your involvement with the disease, or with the science of medicine, this is both a serious and a highly entertaining book.
"Fantastic exiting scientific story telling"
Possibly but I think both versions has value. I use the audioversion in my car spending 2 hours on tranport from home to work. Some of the more philosofistic quotes i would like to read and grasp by seeing the text not meerely hearing the words.
The story about cancer is told in a very passionate way building drama in the story so you cannot wait to hear the end of that drama. The scientific data is transformed to personalized stories that we can identify us with. Very exiting and well told stories that hold the red thread.
All characters were well perfomed and escribed as collaborate workers in the scioentific community. The story of the cancer mascot Jimmy and the raise of the Jimmy foundation was very well described.
Many chapters moved me - the efforts and strengh in these deeply commited doctors and workers in the battlefield against cancer. The way of thinking and the changes in the way of thinking.
So many people took a stand so many used their lives in the battle against diseases - so very well written and told.
I am not native english spoken but live in Denmark as a medical oncologist.I can so closely identify the struggle described in the book. The struggle against cancer described as almost happened in my time born in 1951 as a senior concultant stating treating cancer in 1982.
Stephen Hoye's reading is so clear and well understood that I have no problems at all listening to the book - it might as well have beeen read in my own language. Emazingly well done.
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