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Forgetting

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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  202 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Afflicting nearly half of all persons over the age of 85, Alzheimer's disease kills nearly 100,000 Americas a year as it insidiously robs them of their memory and wreaks havoc on the lives of their loved ones. It was once minimized and misunderstood as forgetfulness in the elderly, but Alzheimer's is now at the forefront of many medical and scientific agendas, for as the w ...more
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Published May 20th 2003 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (first published May 19th 1999)
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Community Reviews

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Katie
I am taking a training class for my job about Alzheimer's and I decided to read this book because I wanted more information about the disease. This book was very readable and simple to understand, but still had a fair amount of valuable medical information.

In the beginning sections of the book, I kept thinking how amazing the human brain is. I guess it is really no wonder that it doesn't always hold out as long as the rest of the body. When I think about it, I am just totally in awe of the fact
...more
Nan
The science here may be outdated, but the book as a whole is an important one. Shenk explores the history of the disease, the politics of the research, while interweaving the personal narratives of those who have gone through each stage of "forgetting". It is ultimately a book about loss, about finding meaning through loss. Shenk sees the disease as one of humanity's "reliable touchstones". What will we lose when we defeat it? "Defeating Alzheimer's," Shenk writes, "will be like defeating winter ...more
John Thorndike
This is the classic text on Alzheimer’s. It’s now a decade old, but reads like it was written yesterday. Shenk tells us how the disease was discovered, how it develops in the brain and how it plays out in the daily lives of patients.

I read this within a month of my father’s diagnosis of advanced second stage dementia, and I’ve never been so comforted by a book. Even now, a few years later, I occasionally take The Forgetting down from the shelf and hold it. I read a few pages. I feel secure with
...more
Mary Anne
Haunting book, clear and definitive, fascinating biography of the dimensions of this disease, very thorough historical background of prevalence throughout time.

I came to this book with a maudlin curiosity of this disease. When a family member was diagnosed with "Alzheimer's", I was continuously confused by the supposed interchangeability of the language - some said 'dementia', some said 'alzheimer's', and I said 'BE CLEAR, PLEASE!'. I needed to understand the parameters of this disease, I neede
...more
Jim
This is an extremely well-constructed and well-written book. It treads the line between history book and memoir carefully but with something of the novelist’s panache. There are several strands to this book which could have been presented as chapters in their own right but the constant interweaving of these stories—the history of Alzheimer’s from its initial discovery to now, the course of the disease, the life of Emerson, a conference in 1999—is beautifully done. It is also a surprisingly frank ...more
Tami
This was great. It was hard to put this down. My grandmother has Alzheimer's so I'm desperate for information. Some chapters were a bit into the science and brain chemistry of Alzheimer's. Good to know but not that easy of a read. There were other chapters about famous writers or famous people that had suffered the decline of this disease such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Ronald Reagan. I highly recommend this to anyone needing to know more about this subject matter.
Sam
This book hits really close to home since my dad passed away from this disease. Shenk does a great job of shining light to the history of Alzheimer's research and the several famous people inflicted with disease. After reading this I now have a new understanding that I never knew prior to reading this, and for that I appreciate the insight I've gained.

Hopefully we can separate the commercial implications of a cure and work towards a more cohesive effort at finding the solution. Drug research nee
...more
Joseph
Shenk makes it clear to people that Alzheimer’s is going to be a huge socioeconomic issue within in the next ten to twenty years (and he was right considering this was written back in 2001). The book approaches Alzheimer’s with a sense of dignity, stating that the people who live with it should not be treated as outcasts or lost causes. He handles the subject matter with the utmost respect, giving equal time to those suffering as to those fighting for a cure. The pacing and structuring work so w ...more
Jennifer
Haunting, frightening, fascinating. The author's "hook" is that there might be unexpected benefits to losing your memory--seeing the world afresh, living in the now--but I didn't buy them and I'm not sure he did either. He ends with a story about talking with an Alzheimer's patient in the middle stages. They've had long email conversations and in-depth discussions about the ravages of the disease, and the author tells his friend, "Thanks to watching you go through this, I'm less afraid of the di ...more
Calle Pierson-kemp
This is simply a fantastic book. I highly recommend it to anyone who has, is care giving for, or simply wants to know more about AD.
Alicia
This was the most useful book I read when my father was dealing with with his 7 year battle with AD in the late 90s. It is a clear & informative description of the sequence of biological changes that take place in the brain with the progression of the disease. It helps in dealing with the personality changes & mood swings when you can understand each is caused by a biological event. I have loaned it to many friends on the same journey and all have found it useful.
Janet E.
Shenk does a terrific job of covering Alzheimer's disease from many angles. The book beginning with the clinical (history, theories, avenues of research), then moves into personal experiences of caregivers and people who have the disease. At the end he turns philosophical, musing about the relationships between memory and self.

Both informative and comforting; a solid resource for anyone wishing to learn more.
Marty
What an interesting book....the history of alzheimers, but more than that....it takes one through the stages; a perspective from a young man with Alheimers....ideas on how to support those affected....and just a lot of information on our memories and how they work. Highly recommend, even if you don't have a family member or friend who has faced this challenge.
Dorothy
Still reading... on page 120. So far, 5 stars. Great book on the history of the Alzheimer's Disease, as it was officially named by Alois Alzheimer. Interesting facts about famous people who died from this. Very good reference and information for caregivers and people who know those affected by this disease.
Crystal
this book is very informative on the Alzheimer disease.. i used it as a study tool as a Alzheimer specialist.. .. so much info.. i think any caregiver or family member of a patient or loved one should read this... i liked it so good i made me alot of notes for my references... will be reading again..
Rosie
Apr 12, 2008 Rosie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is aging (which means all of us)
Excellent book -- I highly recommend it. It gives a very humanizing portrait of Alzheimer's disease, both the positive and negative sides. I'd never thought of it as anything but something to be horrified of and afraid of getting myself, so it was really encouraging to read this.
Joyce
Jun 13, 2008 Joyce rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has a relative or friend who has it.
Recommended to Joyce by: The Madonnas of Leningrad
This is not a fun book. It was in the recommended reading from The Madonnas of Leningrad. It is for someone who is dealing with Alzheimer's in some way. It gives you information of the cause and results. It prepares you for the various stages of Alzheimers. It was helpful to me.
Diana Bogan
powerful, enlightening and an altogether frightening look at this disease. i thought Shenk succeeded at unwrapping the long history of this disease, while providing the reader with a humanistic and scientific window into the world of Alois Alzheimer's disease.
sosser
a very good biography of the disease. an excellent place to start for anyone curious about alzheimers and how it affects the mind of the patient as well as the family members, caregivers and scientists involved in the inevitable decline.
Vashti
This book has served as a God send at this point in my life. The best way to describe it is that is "written with a researcher's attention to detail and a storyteller's ear" (New York Times Book Review).
Jennifer
What a totally gorgeous, spare, solemn, elegantly written book. It's strange that the subject matter is so expansive yet everything segues so nicely in itself, like the enfoldings of a cortex.
Garrett
This was a very complete portrait of the stages of Alzheimer's disease. Pretty intro-level stuff, but I found it hugely useful in thinking about my Grandmother and what she's going through.
Felicia
This was an interesting read, although I would have preferred more concrete information about living with the disease, and less-detailed accounts of medical research.
Carisa
Excellent book for anyone wanting to learn more about Alzheimer's. David Shenk did a great job. This book is very inclusive.
Amanda
Good book. Makes the science behind Alzheimer's easy to understand, but probably a little outdated, as it was written in 2002.
Cdoefer
Just started this book. At this point, it's reading like a horror story to me. And it's nonfiction.

Riveting.
Lauren
Thought-provoking. The sections regarding Ralph Waldo Emerson and his dementia are so artfully done. A must-read.
Barbara
This book about Alzheimer's is written beautifully. The best book about Alzheimer's. Instructive, literary.
Tfalcone
Good book with some scary statistics. Our knowledge has not increased much over the last 20 years.
Eric
A nice balance between story and science. Fascinating explanation of retrogenesis.
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David Shenk is the award-winning and national-bestselling author of six books, including The Genius in All of Us: New Insights Into Genetics, Talent, and IQ ("deeply interesting and important" - New York Times), The Forgetting: Alzheimer's, Portrait of an Epidemic ("remarkable" - Los Angeles Times), Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut ("indispensable" - New York Times), and The Im ...more
More about David Shenk...
The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, or How 32 Carved Pieces on a Board Illuminated Our Understanding of War, Art, Science and the Human Brain Skeleton Key Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent, and IQ

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