Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Part 1
This is the first time I felt compelled to write a book review in parts. I recently learned about The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, written by Siddhartha Mukherjee from Linda, a young breast cancer survivor. Linda reads and recommends a lot of great books. Thanks to her, I've read some great literature. You can check out her blog here.

OMG! What an intense drama! There are heros, martyrs, villains, and ideological, technological, and scientific wizardry. Author/oncologist (cancer specialist) Mukherjee pens a tale which inspires hope, terror, and pity. This non-fiction work takes you through the biography of the disease known as "The Emperor of All Maladies", aka cancer. From etymology (Karkinos- crab and onkos-lump) to various early crude form of treatment, cancer is an illness which has gone through tons of trial and error approaches ranging from the barbaric (acid and fire to burn off tumours) to bloodletting to radically radical mastectomies. I felt on the edge of my seat for most of this book, sensing the urgency of its players as they participated in the war against cancer. The lone "mad" scientists who worked on treatments in the basements of cancer hospitals, the scores of young leukemia patients who were the subjects of potentially deadly clinical trials, and the "stab in the dark" for an answer to this mysterious, allusive illness. From the first potential citing of cancer dating back to 2500 BC, doctors have tried to rid the body of cancer. The ideologies change and the approaches become more refined but essentially the disease, metamorphasizes, metastisizes, and fools. This book helped me to appreciate the sacrifice of the early visionaries, these oncologists who persisted in spite of the dissension of their peers, the limitations of the medical industry, and the thousands of children and adults who were subjected to these early critical trials when cures were so desparately sought after. I give my props for Siddhartha Mukerjee for compiling this rivoting book which must have taken years of tireless research through medical journals, newspapers, and interviews.

Unfortunately, I have to do this review in parts. I had borrowed Emperor of All Maladies from the library and now I must return it. There are 472 pages in this book and it is a "Best Bets: 7 Day Loan". I managed to get to page 167in seven days. So this is where I'll stop for now.

Coming Up Next: Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr

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