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The Emperor of All Maladies reveals the many faces of an iconic, shape-shifting disease that is the defining plague of our generation. The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance but also of hubris, arrogance, paternalism, 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 his predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary. The audiobook is like a literary thriller with cancer as the central character.
From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave may have cut off her diseased breast, to the 19th-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy to Mukherjee's own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through toxic, bruising, and draining regimens in order to survive - and to increase the store of human knowledge.
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By S.R.E. on 03-02-16
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I'm not usually hot on reading nonfiction for pleasure. However, I enjoy reading medical articles and frequently find myself hopping between Wikipedia articles reading about different illnesses. This book is a more legitimate version of my Wikipedia hobby.
I bought this book because my father had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Cancer was on my mind, but I was far too frightened of the emotional response I knew I would have to a biography or memoir. I honestly expected this book to be cold and clinical. I was completely wrong. The author seamlessly blends history, medical fact, and patient anecdotes. The chapters open with some very beautiful and thought-provoking quotes. The patient stories are beautiful and tragic without being saccharine. I also learned a lot about cancer, the functions of which were a mysterious blur in the back of my mind even after my father's diagnosis.
Perhaps the best surprise was how readable and absorbing this book was. I never thought I'd describe a nonfiction book written by a scientist as a "page turner", but here we are. It's a unique and wonderful book.
26 of 27 people found this review helpful
By Timothy on 11-12-16
Great but not as good as his other book
I got this book because I read his other book The Gene: An Intimate History. That book is an unqualified masterpiece. This book is also great, but having read the other, it covers some familiar territory and so maybe was overshadowed. If you're only going to read one Siddhartha Mukergee book, read The Gene. That's my recommendation.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
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By Claudine Innes on 11-06-17
Truly fascinating, well written and resarched.
Loved this book. It is written in such a way that one learns not only about the history of the disease and the struggles to understand its cause and its treatment but about many other things as well: about doctors and patients, about researchers,la and campaigners, about how science progresses (or doesn't), about how we get new drugs (and don't), about biology and genetics, and about life and death. And about how to tell a great story. A wonderful read.