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Editor’s Note

“A Microbial Adversary...”

Acclaimed science author Mukherjee tells the story of humanity’s most formidable adversary with the passion of a biographer in this Pulitzer Prize-winner.
Scribd Editor
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence. Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee 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, paternalism, and misperception. 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 that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out “war against cancer.” The book reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist.

From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave may have cut off her diseased breast, to the nineteenth-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 fiercely demanding regimens in order to survive—and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease.

Riveting, urgent, and surprising, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments. It is an illuminating book that provides hope and clarity to those seeking to demystify cancer.

Topics: Cancer, Disease, Genetics, Evolution, and Politics

Published: Scribner on
ISBN: 9781439181713
List price: $13.99
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This is one of the best books I've read in some time! As an epidemiologist by training, it was exciting to read the stories behind some of the landmark papers I had read in school. The writing is an excellent blend of storytelling and instruction that isn't boring or so dumbed-down it is hard to read for those with a Biology background. I almost want to re-read it immediately!more
owsesaaesnsqmmore
Parts are slow but overall very enjoyable and informative.more
A significant work, richly supported and including a helpful glossary, a useful index and an interview with the author. While geared for the layperson, the detail should also interest the healthcare professional.

For those with little science background, the work may be at times too technical, but there is much that speaks to the heart as well as the mind.

For me, the book recalls a long portion of my working life as part of a team in the nursing division at M.D. Anderson Hospital. Many of the characters in this book are people I was privileged to meet and work alongside.

Like many, the book strikes personal notes as well. My own sister faced Stage III ovarian cancer in her twenties and underwent three surgeries and grueling chemotherapy while finishing a college degree and starting graduate school.

Her prognosis for cure at the time was only 30% but she is alive over 25 years later thanks to expert treatment at MDAH.

And last year, I found myself in the court of the Emperor of All Diseases when a routine mammogram turned out to be not so routine. This book illustrates the history of oncology that lead to both the very early diagnosis of Stage Zero breast cancer, the breast sparing surgery, the prognostic indicators of my tumor receptors and the ongoing protection of an estrogen blocker.

Few will go through life without having cancer touch their own life or someone close to them. Hence, this book is valuable to all. I recommend it highly. Knowledge is a great antidote to fear.more
Read all 58 reviews

Reviews

This is one of the best books I've read in some time! As an epidemiologist by training, it was exciting to read the stories behind some of the landmark papers I had read in school. The writing is an excellent blend of storytelling and instruction that isn't boring or so dumbed-down it is hard to read for those with a Biology background. I almost want to re-read it immediately!more
owsesaaesnsqmmore
Parts are slow but overall very enjoyable and informative.more
A significant work, richly supported and including a helpful glossary, a useful index and an interview with the author. While geared for the layperson, the detail should also interest the healthcare professional.

For those with little science background, the work may be at times too technical, but there is much that speaks to the heart as well as the mind.

For me, the book recalls a long portion of my working life as part of a team in the nursing division at M.D. Anderson Hospital. Many of the characters in this book are people I was privileged to meet and work alongside.

Like many, the book strikes personal notes as well. My own sister faced Stage III ovarian cancer in her twenties and underwent three surgeries and grueling chemotherapy while finishing a college degree and starting graduate school.

Her prognosis for cure at the time was only 30% but she is alive over 25 years later thanks to expert treatment at MDAH.

And last year, I found myself in the court of the Emperor of All Diseases when a routine mammogram turned out to be not so routine. This book illustrates the history of oncology that lead to both the very early diagnosis of Stage Zero breast cancer, the breast sparing surgery, the prognostic indicators of my tumor receptors and the ongoing protection of an estrogen blocker.

Few will go through life without having cancer touch their own life or someone close to them. Hence, this book is valuable to all. I recommend it highly. Knowledge is a great antidote to fear.more
A great history of cancer as both a biological phenomenon and medical scurge. This book describes the important people that have contributed to our modern understanding of cancer.more
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.more
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