Thursday, December 22, 2022

The emperor of all maladies - Siddhartha Mukherjee

I’ve already introduced Siddhartha Mukherjee when I reviewed “The gene”. What I said about Oliver Sacks is true for Mukherjee as well: a great scientist with outstanding literary skills.
He studied biology - that’s why he wrote a book about genetics - and works as a haematologist and oncologist, hence this work about cancer. A great book about a terrible subject, some might say.
Mukherjee decided to write about cancer because, when asked questions by his patients about their illness, he couldn’t find any good source of information for the layman to point them to.
Mukherjee likes to call his work a “biography of cancer”, referring to the fact that cancer leverages many mechanisms that our bodies use to keep us alive, such as cell division, biological pathways, mobility, vascularization.
The book tells the story of those who played a part in the battle against the disease (which is actually many diseases that have uncontrolled cellular proliferation in common): surgeons, oncologists, biologists, chemists, pharmacologists, but also philanthropists, activists and of course patients and their relatives.
Intentionally informative, frequently heartbreaking, engaging throughout. A masterpiece.

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