'Mukherjee calls this great and beautiful book a biography, rather than a history, because he wants his reader to understand his subject not just as a disease, a scientific problem or a social condition, but as a character - an antagonist with a story to tell. His intensely vivid and precise descriptions of biological processes accumulate into a character, fully developed and eerily familiar. The notion of "popular science" doesn't come close to describing this achievement. It is literature.' Observer 'This is a riveting book...profound, eloquent and searching' John Carey, Sunday Times '"The Emperor of All Maladies" is the book that many will have been waiting for. This elegantly written overview allows us to look a once whispered-about illness squarely in the eye.' Independent 'So beautifully written; this is literature, not popular science. "The Emperor of Maladies" empowers us, makes it clear that we really do know this enemy, and so brings us another step closer to victory.' Evening Standard 'Mukherjee never condescends, yet he manages to write lucidly and tellingly about complex experimental, technological and theoretical matters' Will Self, New Statesman
A comprehensive history of cancer -- one of the greatest enemies of medical progress -- and an insight into its effects and potential cures, by a leading expert on the illness. Cancer is one of a handful of human ailments that continue to elude us. The modern age is plagued with news of rising cancer rates, all kinds of possible man-made causes and a constant stream of potential miracle cures. In the course of his investigations into cancer, however, Siddhartha Mukherjee discovered that it is an ancient illness, which endured for centuries as a private matter, swaddled in secrecy and shame. Peering beyond the screen he saw that every generation had imagined cancer uniquely, and made its own desperately inventive attempt to find a cure. It is only over recent generations that cancer has morphed into one of the most public and politically scrutinised diseases of our era. Mukherjee delves into the larger history of cancer. How old is it? When did the battle against it begin? How have we -- as a society -- dealt with its challenge? How have we imagined the disease and what forces have we marshalled against it? Essentially: where are we in the war against cancer?What, if anything, have we won so far, and what have we lost? Cancer is a survivor: it changes, it adapts, it evolves, it grows. It is so close to us in biology that, in destroying it, we often destroy ourselves. The quest for the 'cure' for cancer has gradually transformed into a lodestone quest, the yardstick of our scientific and medical progress. This book is the story of that quest.
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