book reviews

June 9, 2011 |
Courtesy of Beaverdale Books


Reviewed by Julie Goodrich


The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

By Siddhartha Mukherjee

Scribner Book Company

Pub Date: 03/31/11

$ 30.00

571 pp


Witty, fascinating and complex; this book is riveting. Siddhartha Mukherjee takes a far deeper look at cancer than has ever been given to the general public: the awful but intriguing disease that has haunted the human race since the dawn of time. He discusses the evolution of the disease and the radical, sometimes unbelieveable ways it has been treated over the years. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, molecular biology, bioinformatics, immunology, epidemiology and supercomputers are just a few of the wide ranging topics that get touched upon, as Mukherjee discusses all the ways cancer has affected our lives.

Mukherjee is one of those rare scientists who is able to speak so passionately about a subject, but still hold his readers' attention. It is nice to be taught by someone so knowledgeable and so very easy to read. The heart-wrenching tales from his patients, who pepper the historical bits, not only bring the abstract into focus, but they force the reader to understand more than just the science; they understand the true magnitude of this generation defining disease.

One in four of us will experience cancer in our lives. We will fight and strive against this ancient foe with the help of oncologists, nurses and ever changing drugs. Any general will tell you that understanding the enemy is a major key to defeating it. This book is a much-needed biography to help us conquer cancer.

The Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction is justly deserved here; it would be a shame to miss it. CV