The Forgetting: Alzheimer's, Portrait of an Epidemic
An urgent and moving exploration of the Alzheimer's epidemic, The Forgetting is a dazzling meditation on the nature of memory and self and on the disease that robs people of both.
Alzheimer's disease is a demographic time bomb. Since 1975, the number of Americans afflicted has risen from five hundred thousand to five million; over the next fifty years, an estimated eighty to "one hundred million more people worldwide will succumb to it. But it is the story behind these numbers that makes The Forgetting such a landmark work. A magnificent synthesis of history, science, politics, psychology, and profound human drama, the book explores the nature of a disease that attacks not merely memory but the very core of our human identity.
Delving into such diverse areas as art history, literature, genetics, and neurobiology, David Shenk shows that Alzheimer's particular terror, the gradual eradication of memory and of mind is as old as humankind itself. He convincingly posits that such historical figures as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jonathan Swift and Frederick Law Olmstead were caught in the disease's insidious grip. Moving portraits of contemporary patients, their families, and their caregivers drive home the sad pattern of regression Alzheimer's exacts, a pathology that eerily mirrors child development in reverse. Yet Shenk offers a well of empathy and understanding for families striving to better understand and come to terms with their loss.
With equal mastery Shenk charts the complicated race to find a cure. As scientists pursue a treatment worth billions of dollars, the brutal competition among them poses a serious threat to the traditional ethic of sharing vital research. Butthere "are heartening signs of progress, and for the first time there is excitement among scientists that a cure may indeed be possible.
Shenk eloquently calls Alzheimer's "death by a thousand subtractions." The Forgetting is at once a powerful examination of what this means and a forthright discussion of the impact this epidemic will have on the life of every reader.
What people are saying - Write a review
For anyone who needs to know more about Alzheimer's Disease than the typical three-fold pamphlet, David Shenk's book and the accompanying PBS documentary are quite helpful.
Like schizophrenia, there is not one Alzheimer's Disease, but many. This is perhaps the most important reason to read this book.
Review: The Forgetting: Alzheimer's: Portrait of an EpidemicUser Review - John Thorndike - Goodreads
This is the classic text on Alzheimer's. It's now a decade old, but reads like it was written yesterday. Shenk tells us how the disease was discovered, how it develops in the brain and how it plays ... Read full review