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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.

Book Reviews

The Emperor of All Maladies
Average rating
4.6 / 5
August 9th, 2015
Very interesting look into cancer. Many interesting and captivating stories. Enjoyed how the book was laid out.
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1 review
The Emperor of All Maladies
May 3rd, 2014
Good read with a history of cancer discovery/research. Gets a little dry in spots but interesting.
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1 review
A Historian With A Time Machine
February 15th, 2014
All I'm gonna say is: "you will experience a glorious moments of revelation", however, he tries in futility, to Hijack the history of "surgical oncology" and to discredit "The Great Founding Father Of Modern Surgery", William Stewart Halsted, but you can not blame the author for that, after all he is a "medical diplomat" who tries to convince others that he fought at the front lines of cancer therapy, when in fact , it is the Great "Surgical Warriors" that fight and die and the front line of war on cancer, then it becomes clear why a diplomat would try to take the credit for winning the war, that was won by the great warriors and martyrs, Surgery , always have been, always will be, the most effective preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic, prognostic, palliative, modality, And "Visceral Surgeons", will always lead the fight , and one day, they will win the war, Do not be fooled by the author "nihilistic" outlook on the war on cancer, for he is a "physician", not a " Surgeon", When was the last time that physicians won any war? They are mere observers of that war, and that us the best they could be, just "historians", no matter how good at it, that 's just about it, a good story tellers, Leave the fighting and the winning, to the Surgical Warriors, definitely we have lost so many battles, but make no mistake, we will win that war, the term cancer itself, will be one day, obsolete, archaic term, for an eradicated disease , just like small pox, and polio, and this is not a mere wishful thinking, this is "The Doctrine" of our "Founding Fathers", We leave the "chronicling" for them, For we are busy fighting
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1 review
Well written and interesting
February 21st, 2013
The subject matter of this book is not light, but it's written in a way that is engaging and personable. A great chronicle of humanity's fight against a most pernicious foe.
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1 review

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