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The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee



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Published by Simon and Schuster
Like Andrew Solomon's National Book Award-winning book on depression, The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificently written and conceived "biography" of a formidable disease, cancer--from its origins through the epic battles to conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence. Read an excerpt from the winner of the 2011 Pulitzer prize for general nonfiction.
Like Andrew Solomon's National Book Award-winning book on depression, The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificently written and conceived "biography" of a formidable disease, cancer--from its origins through the epic battles to conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence. Read an excerpt from the winner of the 2011 Pulitzer prize for general nonfiction.

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Publish date: Aug 9, 2011
Added to Scribd: Nov 01, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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“A compulsively readable, surprisingly uplifting, and vivid tale.
o, the oprah magazine
piece of medical journalism.”
“A meticulously researched, panoramic history . . . What makesMukherjee’s narrative so remarkable is that he imbues decades of painstaking laboratory investigation with the suspense of a mystery novel and urgency of a thriller.”
the Boston gloBe
san Francisco chronicle
. . . Te reader devours this fascinating book . . .Mukherjee is a clear and determined writer. . . . An unusually humble,insightful book.”
los angeles times
. . . So often physician writers attempt the delicacy of using their patients as a mirror to their own humanity. Mukherjeedoes the opposite. His book is not built to show us the good doctorstruggling with tough decisions, but ourselves.”
John Freeman, npr
Praise for
Te Emperor of All Maladies
 Te Emperor o All Maladies
A Biography o Cancer
Siddhartha Mukherjee
Te Emperor of All Maladies
is a magnicent, prooundly humane “biog-raphy” o cancer—rom its rst documented appearances thousands o  years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control,and conquer it to a radical new understanding o its essence. Physician,researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee ex-amines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective,and a biographer’s passion. Te result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquentchronicle o a disease humans have lived with—and perished rom—ormore than ve thousand years. Te story o cancer is a story o human ingenuity, resilience, and persever-ance, but also o hubris, paternalism, and misperception. Mukherjee re-counts centuries o discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths, told throughthe eyes o his predecessors and peers, training their wits against an innite-ly resourceul adversary that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily  vanquished in an all-out “war against cancer.” Te book reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist.From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave may have cut of herdiseased breast, to the nineteenth-century recipients o primitive radiationand chemotherapy to Mukherjee’s own leukemia patient, Carla,
Te Emperor of All Maladies
is about the people who have soldiered through ercely de-manding regimens in order to survive—and to increase our understandingo this iconic disease.Riveting, urgent, and surprising,
Te Emperor of All Maladies
provides a as-cinating glimpse into the uture o cancer treatments. It is an illuminatingbook that provides hope and clarity to those seeking to demystiy cancer.

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bookishjojo reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Mukherjee spent nearly 7 years researching, compiling and writing this biography of cancer. While he was in medical school. Say what? Dude, apparently, wasn't busy enough.

This book is stellar. We are given a detailed history of the disease, but also of the research and the doctors and scientists who have spent their lives trying to understand cancer and find a cure. Interspersed, we are introduced to patients - both those who lived and those whose malignancies were just too fierce. Mukherjee manages to distill complex information into a format that not just readable, but un-put-down-able and humane.

This is one of those books everyone should read.
petra5xs reviewed this
Rated 5/5
This book took me over a year to read. I kept it on the kitchen counter and as the left-hand page pile got bigger there was me standing on the right, getting smaller. It was my diet book. A couple of pages and a pound or so every week. What I was doing was either boiling the kettle or making my own concoction of a fat and cholesterol-busting mousse* that involved just holding an immersion whisk for a couple of minutes. I have such a low threshold for boredom I had to do something, so I read Emperor of All Maladies.

I had previously tried to read the book in the proper way but failed. It is very heavy and not all of it is equally fascinating, but it all hangs together in the end and has given me a proper education in genes, dna, mutations, what cancer actually is and why it has been so impossible to find a panacea.

It's a bit like fighting a guerrilla war. You can only defeat the insurgents where you find them and where you think they might be. It might seem as if all the rogue cells have been annhilated. But if you didn't find them or one is high in the hills watching, or there are reinforcements coming from abroad in the next few months, then the battle will resume as soon as numbers have built up and the enemy is attacking once again. That is not to say there aren't victories, but they are victories of battles, not of the war, but the war against cancer is one from which we can never withdraw.

One thing struck me that was full of hope, was Mukherjee was talking about a previously rare cancer that is now quite common. It might be assumed that the cancer itself is on the upsurge, but no, it was rare because people died from it, now they live with it, so just like AIDS, it is no longer a killer but a chronic disease.

7-star book. 8 even... it was that good.

*Recipe *
1/8 tsp of xanthan gum (negligble calories, lots of soluble fibre) whisked at high, long and boring speed into 1/4 cup of skim milk (21 cals) until thick like a meringue.

Add another 1/8 tsp of xantham gum and whisk more. Add flavouring and sweetener - yoghurt, apple sauce, mashed banana, sugar-free kool aid (makes the texture chunky, very odd) or for an ersatz cay lime pie, some lime juice. Not chocolate, dissolves the whole thing.

For chocolate mousse, 2 tsps of cocoa powder (20 cals and has soluble fibre) to some sugar-free syrup (10 cals) and stir. This is very nice with a bit of ginger and cinnamon added and pour over vanilla-flavoured mousse.

Xantham gum remains bulky in your stomach and fills you up for a short while, but 1 and a half cups of a fluffy mousse are a nice ending to a diet meal as it can be under 25 cals (and then I can have another one and read some more Emperor of All Maladies.

(I lost 55lb and 30 points off my cholesterol.

pidgeon92_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Interesting and informative. Excellent narration on the audiobook.
melissarochelle_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Cancer sucks. This was such an amazing listen, but also very depressing. To know that we've been trying to "cure" cancer for hundreds of years but still aren't any closer is just devastating. Mukherjee takes you on quite a roller coaster of a trip as you follow patients (mainly Carla). There are dark moments throughout, with a few glimpses of hope, but overall...cancer just sucks. (I really hate the tobacco industry...I mean, they KNEW and STILL KNOW that their products were/are killing people, but they still market them like crazy. Evil.)
moonbutterfly_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
This is a nice history of cancer for the general reader. It covers old barbaric treatments, modern discoveries, along with the various people involved in the field throughout its history. The author also shares some of his patient’s experiences with the reader, which gives the book a personal feel.

I hate to admit it but I got bored with this book. Granted I wasn’t “that” interested in the topic, but I thought the history sections really dragged. Another issue was the chapter names were not included in the table of contents. So you have to look up the topic in the index to find something. I also had a trivial issue with the eBook version of this book. In the eBook, the publishers decided to underline three or more words to indicate footnotes. This makes it hard to differentiate between the footnotes and your highlights.

After reading this book, I’m convinced we still don’t know that much about cancer and doctors are just guessing. We have not really progressed much in the last fifty years as this book shows. It was a decent book but not my favorite.
rincey_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
I wish I could have given this 3.5 stars. It is a good book, but I don't necessarily think it is a 4-star book. Basically if you are a giant science/history nerd or have a fascination with cancer, this is a great book. As someone who is only partially interested in it, I was able to read it, but wasn't necessarily riveted by it.

This is a good, readable story all about cancer. There are enough stories about actual people that it is able to flow. However the "thrilling" quote on the front cover from O Magazine is a bit much.
nittnut reviewed this
Written for just about any reader (perhaps someone who works in cancer research would want more scientific detail) this history of cancer and the progress that has been made in treatment of the different forms of cancer was a page turner. I liked his honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the research methodologies as well as the strengths and weaknesses of cancer treatment. It was fascinating to glimpse the personalities of the doctors and researchers and see how it affected their treatment and research styles. It was also interesting to read about how politics effects medical research
revslick_1 reviewed this
Rated 2/5
With this one, let me get the bad over with first. It was a roller coaster ride of depressingly dull writing, soul-suckingly sad mortality, and scientifically intriguing giddiness. The good is that Mukherjee has written an adventurous, touring expose into the rhyme and reason in the research of cancer, which can be reduced to cancer cells are cool to scientists, multiple approaches and early discovery are helpful but we are still (mostly) screwed but with longer intervals.
helenoel reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Very good, comprehensive history/"biography" of cancer. A bit heavy going, but good explanations and human stories break it up a bit.
rivkat_2 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Tracks cancer from its earliest recorded appearances to modern (2011) understanding and treatments. While there’s a fair amount of suffering, it’s really a researchers’-eye view, with special attention to the ways in which practicing doctors didn’t always follow what the best understanding of contemporary researchers were. As someone about to turn the corner on recommended mammographs (except that the research seems to be conflicting), I wondered about what things are taken as true now that will be discarded in ten years, the way so many previous recommendations and treatments have been, but I still learned a fair amount about how cancer treatment has changed over time.

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