The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

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Scribner, Nov 16, 2010 - History - 592 pages
34 Reviews
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and now a documentary from Ken Burns on PBS, The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence.

Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with—and perished from—for more than five thousand years.

The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance, but also of hubris, paternalism, and misperception. Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths, told through the eyes of his predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out “war against cancer.” The book reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist.

From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave may have cut off her diseased breast, to the nineteenth-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy to Mukherjee’s own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through fiercely demanding regimens in order to survive—and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease.

Riveting, urgent, and surprising, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments. It is an illuminating book that provides hope and clarity to those seeking to demystify cancer.

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Review: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

User Review  - Carol - Goodreads

I'm debating whether I should forgo the star system on my reviews. My stars make more sense when you align them with genre or category than title perhaps. Take a book like The Emperor of Maladies: A ... Read full review

Review: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

User Review  - Emily - Goodreads

I'm late coming to this book, but it was a great read that significantly updated my view of a difficult topic. Mukherjee pursues the history of three ways of attacking cancer: eradication through ... Read full review

All 3 reviews »

About the author (2010)

Siddhartha Mukherjee is a cancer physician and researcher. He is the author of The Laws of Medicine and The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction. Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a staff cancer physician at Columbia University Medical Center. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in Nature, The New England Journal of MedicineThe New York Times, and The New Republic. He lives in New York with his wife and daughters. 

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