Ashley's Reviews > The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
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's review
Jun 25, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction, medical, science
Read from June 06 to 25, 2011

I come from a family that has no history of cancer, and for the first 25 years of my life, nobody I was close with had ever struggled with the disease. That all changed when I met my husband and watched his mother suffer and ultimately recover from pancreatic cancer. It was a terrifying journey with a statistically improbable happy ending. And even though I watched first hand the experience, I still felt totally uneducated on the topic. So when a friend suggested the Emperor of All Maladies, I quickly purchased it with high expectations.

It did not let me down. Dr. Mukherjee manages to weave an intoxicating tale that pulls you in and holds your hand through the history of cancer. Though filled with technical terms and medical jargon, it is easy reading for those of us without absolutely no scientific background. In a lot of ways, the history of cancer reminds me of the history of so many other health issues that have laid bare the hubris of man. The old saying that ignorance is bliss holds true again and again in the history of medicine. Just as scientists, jubilant following the eradication of smallpox, believed the use of antibiotics and modern medicine would rid the world of all microbes, cancer experts have proclaimed the cure for cancer to be just around the corner time and time again. Yet, as this book makes clear, that corner never appeared. Each assertion was met with a new twist, and a new problem. Modern medicine seems much more circumspect and after finishing this book, I will watch with a significantly more educated eye as the latest developments are announced. Exceptionally well written and beautifully researched, this is a book that will stay with you long after it is finished.

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