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The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (2010)

by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,9211792,307 (4.31)1 / 319
A stunning combination of medical history, cutting-edge science, and narrative journalism that transforms the listener's understanding of cancer and much of the world around them. Siddhartha Mukherjee provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments and offers a bold new perspective on the way doctors, scientists, philosophers, and lay people have observed and understood the human body for millennia.… (more)
  1. 41
    The Secret History of the War on Cancer by Devra Davis (lemontwist)
  2. 21
    Illness as Metaphor & AIDS and Its Metaphors by Susan Sontag (caitlinlizzy)
  3. 10
    And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts (DetailMuse)
    DetailMuse: Both are excellent history-of-medicine narratives.
  4. 00
    Last Night in the OR: A Transplant Surgeon's Odyssey by Bud Shaw (JenniferRobb)
    JenniferRobb: Last Night in the OR discusses early liver transplants; The Emperor of All Maladies details the evolution of cancer treatment
  5. 00
    p53: The Gene that Cracked the Cancer Code by Sue Armstrong (rodneyvc)
  6. 00
    The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Mutant Gene and the Quest to Cure Cancer at the Genetic Level by Jessica Wapner (hailelib)
    hailelib: Expands on Mukherjee's discussion of the development and testing of Gleevec.
  7. 00
    Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber by Ken Wilber (wester)
    wester: A time-slice of cancer history in a personal story, versus the overview of this same history. Close up and panorama view of the same thing.
  8. 01
    The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee (jigarpatel)
    jigarpatel: Given the relationship between cancer and genetic pathways, Mukherjee's later The Gene (2016) is insightful for the layperson, recommend this as a precursor to The Emperor of All Maladies.
  9. 02
    The Wisdom of the Body: Discovering the Human Spirit by Sherwin B. Nuland (fountainoverflows)
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» See also 319 mentions

English (176)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (179)
Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
An excellent blend of history, science and social observations. I enjoy the way the book reads like a story, tracing our understanding of cancer through the ages. It is definitely for people who like their history more topic-focused, rather than centered around a specific person. ( )
  Nommie | May 5, 2021 |
An excellent read if you have ever wondered about causes, treatments, and understanding how cancer takes over a body or you have someone close to you that has suffered through this nightmare. This book is written in more of a biography style since as the writer puts it, Cancer acts more like a biological being that can adapt to it's surroundings. It also explains the technological advances that have occurred over the past 100 years and how there is hope for future treatments in the future. The war on cancer may never be won, but science and medicine are slowly winning the battles with new treatments. DEFINITELY recommended reading! ( )
  sjh4255 | May 4, 2021 |
The author covers the history of cancer. Well detailed, and for the most part, very readable. ( )
  addunn3 | Apr 13, 2021 |
I learned so much! A few parts of the newer, genetic science were a bit beyond me, but the author did a good job with analogies and examples to help the non-scientist reader. His research is comprehensive and the story is fascinating.

My biggest take-away from this book is the sense of gratitude and awe I have for the researchers who never give up. The kind of people who search tirelessly for cures or treatments and the kind of people whose sense of curiosity and love of knowledge give us the basic research which others can apply. ( )
  LynnB | Apr 13, 2021 |
Loved this book, which was not quite what I expected. Where were these great men of science when my father was dying? Where are they now? I know they exist, but most of us only have access to those physicians, like my late father's, who treat their cancer patient using standard protocol: "Here's a list, let's check everything off, watch the patient die, then say we did what we could and get home in time for dinner and the evening news.." The real physicians are like those who appear in this book -- driven to cure this horrible disease. I was inspired and awed by these men and fascinated by the world of cancer research. Although the author did not pull punches when it came to the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, it was never the diatribe it could have been. This wasn't a book about where the blame lies, but about those who have worked hard and brought us far in such a relatively short time. ( )
1 vote GiGiGo | Feb 5, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
It's time to welcome a new star in the constellation of great doctor-writers. With this fat, enthralling, juicy, scholarly, wonderfully written history of cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee - a cancer physician and researcher at Columbia University - vaults into that exalted company ...
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Siddhartha Mukherjeeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hoye, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place. —Susan Sontag
Dedication
To Robert Sandler (1945-1948), and to those who came before and after him.
First words
Prologue
Diseases desperate grown
By desperate appliance are relieved
Or not at all.

—William Shakespeare,
Hamlet

Cancer begins and ends with people. In the midst of
scientific abstraction, it is sometimes possible to forget
this one basic fact. . . . Doctors treat diseases, but they also
treat people, and this precondition of their professional
existence sometimes pulls them in two directions at once.

—June Goodfield

On the morning of May 19, 2004, Carla Reed, a thirty-year-old kindergarten teacher from Ipswich, Massachusetts, a mother of three young children, woke up in bed with a headache.
In a damp fourteen-by-twenty-foot laboratory in Boston on a December morning in 1947, a man named Sidney Farber waited impatiently for the arrival of a parcel from New York.
Quotations
In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backwards. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practice it much. —Sherlock Holmes, in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet
Physicians of the utmost fame Were called at once; but when they came They answered, as they took their Fees, "There is no Cure for this Disease." —Hilaire Belloc
Its palliation is a daily task, its cure a fervent hope. —William Castle, describing leukemia in 1950
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A stunning combination of medical history, cutting-edge science, and narrative journalism that transforms the listener's understanding of cancer and much of the world around them. Siddhartha Mukherjee provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments and offers a bold new perspective on the way doctors, scientists, philosophers, and lay people have observed and understood the human body for millennia.

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