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

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
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Jul 23, 2012

it was amazing
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Wow! Who would have thought a biography of a disease, a meticulously documented piece of medical non-fiction, would read as commandingly as very good fiction? Yet, Mukherjee has crafted a stunningly riveting history of what has been called a modern plague by skillfully weaving together the medical texts and writings of physicians dating as far back as Imhotep (2625 B.C.) with the gradual development of the understanding of the etiology of cancer and the concomitant rise of the modern medical culture, as well as the surprising contributions to medicine from sources such as the textile and chemical weapons industries. Yet despite its breadth and depth of scholarship, Mukherjee's connection to the disease is fiercely personal. This book grew out of his desire to chronicle what he experienced during his two-year, post-graduate "immersion Fellowship" in Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital As he writes of his two years there: "Cancer was an all-consuming presence in our lives. It invaded our imaginations, it occupied our memories; it infiltrated every conversation, every thought. And if we, as physicians, found ourselves immersed in cancer, then our patients found their lives virtually obliterated by the disease." However, because of its scholarship, The Emperor of All Maladies, rises above one physician's personal encounter with this disease and its victims, and is a moving tribute to human vision, courage, persistence, and compassion.
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07/23/2012 page 108
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