This beautifully written, powerful book on the history of cancer relates humanity’s surprisingly long quest to conquer the disease. Heartbreaking and inspiring, it traces the earliest known records of cancer written on Egyptian papyri to the modern day advent of chemotherapy while recounting the author's own experiences as a cancer physician. Good science books are hard to come by, great ones even more so. This is a book that should not be missed.
“The struggle against cancer eventually touches the lives of every person on this planet. In The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddharta Mukherjee displays remarkable skill in blending a definitive history of this disease with a compelling narrative. The book is informative, moving, and provocative, and teaches us a powerful lesson about humanity. We live in the face of inevitable uncertainty, but the knowledge in these pages makes us stronger and more compassionate beings.”
— Geoffrey B. Jennings, Rainy Day Books, Fairway, KS
Summer 2012 Reading Group
“For anyone whose life has been touched by cancer -- probably all of us -- this is a fantastic introduction to not only what cancer is, but also its history, cultural significance, and the legacy of our battles to overcome it. Mukherjee's treatment of this epic subject is multifaceted and told with energy, eloquence, and a deep sense of the human stories behind the medicine.”
— Mark LaFramboise, Politics & Prose Books and Coffee Shop, Washington, DC
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.
About the Author
Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, and The Laws of Medicine. He is the editor of Best Science Writing 2013. Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician and researcher. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Times, and Cell. He lives in New York with his wife and daughters. Visit his website at: SiddharthaMukherjee.com
“This volume should earn Mukherjee a rightful place alongside Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, and Stephen Hawking in the pantheon of our epoch's great explicators.”—Boston Globe