Mukherjee provides one of the most animated, lively, gut wrenching and sublime accounts of the history of cancer and takes the reader through a survey...moreMukherjee provides one of the most animated, lively, gut wrenching and sublime accounts of the history of cancer and takes the reader through a survey of modern cancer research. First off I must say that this is science writing at its best. The motivations, hopes, dreams, fears, struggles, imperfections and the frailties of the scientists and activists involved in this crusade are laid bare. Science and the process of discovery is a uniquely human trait. I would go far as to say that being curious about something and trying to figure out a natural phenomenon is fundamental to the human condition. Mukherjee captures this essence beautifully, he may have been trained as an oncologist but he could have easily chosen a career in writing and been a prolific writer. The prose is beautifully written, never rushed, overtly optimistic or pessimistic, it recounts the very real human effort that a large group of scientists have put into this crusade (some may call it a war) over the centuries. Taking us through a journey that begins with Galen and the naturalists of the antiquities right down to the front lines of modern cancer research, Mukherjee does not forget to pause and reflect on the very personal nature of this war by recounting a number of experiences that he as an oncologist has had with his patients. The message is clear, while we are spending billions on cancer research we should never lose focus on the most important and fundamental aspect of this war - saving a fellow human being from a disease that destroys everything.
Mukherjee also talks about preventative as well as palliative medicine which is often neglected in the Western part of the world. Lung cancer for example can largely be prevented by not smoking and not inhaling other carcinogens. While this may seem obvious to some - remove the carcinogen and prevent the cancer - Mukherjee must be commended for bringing to bear the full authority of decades of scientific study in order to drive home the point that cancer can be prevented.
Probably the best piece of science writing I have seen all year. Quite fortunate to have been able to pick this up. Recommended highly if you enjoy reading science histories, or if you are interested in biology and medicine. 5/5 stars and much of that has to do with the really good writing and not just for the highly informative content. Finally I must add that this is a very human account of a crusade and war that all of us are part of. (less)
Cursory survey of modern neuroscience. Read it if you don't want to comb through a lot of papers. If you really need to know the gist of the theoretic...moreCursory survey of modern neuroscience. Read it if you don't want to comb through a lot of papers. If you really need to know the gist of the theoretical framework of what Eagleman and others have been proposing for the last five years or so, this is the place to be. Quick read, enjoyed it. (less)