Top positive review
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An absolute gem from one of the worlds leading cancer researchers
on 22 April 2008
This books makes understanding the molecular basis of cancer enjoyable and relatively easy. The author - a giant in the field of cancer research - has given us a well presented and well written, if not always concise, account of the biology of cancer.
The chapters follow a natural order, but the book certainly doesn't need to be read linearly - one can dip in and out of chapters with ease, since each is 'relatively' self-contained. I would say though, if you are a beginner, it would be best to at least read the first few chapters for a solid grounding in the basics (i.e. fundamental genetics, the idea of mutations, and the multistep and clonal origin of cancer).
The author not only gives an account of the diseased state but also of the biological processes which are disregulated in cancer. These include apoptosis, cell signalling and cell cycle control. The book covers many different sciences from structural biology to histological analysis of tissue, but all are relevant to the underlying discussion of cancer.
The style of writing is easy to read, and it often feels more like a story than a factual assault. However, this style does mean you may have to read multiple paragraphs to get a point which could have been described in a few sentences. Nevertheless, i would not consider this a failing - it makes the read more enjoyable and therefore more informative.
The diagrams are excellent, especially the summary diagrams of signalling networks. Weinberg also includes many tissue sections and pictures from primary literature and well as protein structures. This broadens our horizons - the biochemist will get an insight into medical oncology while the medic will be informed about signalling and cancer at the level of protein interactions. This book really does have it all.
The 'Synopsis and Prospects' sections at the end of each chapter are always interesting to read. They give an overview of the chapter and provide more insight and future directions. A list of bullet points summarising the key concepts and the thought questions are also useful for revision. References are provided but these are very limited, perhaps due to the vast body of literature that is out there. The glossary and list of abbreviations are useful and this book is not without its own self-indulgent quotations at the start of each chapter.
Who is this book for? I am a final year undergraduate in biochemistry and molecular biology and this book was perfect as an introduction to cancer. After reading this (or parts of this) i felt confident about tackling the primary literature - an otherwise daunting task, given its size. I'm sure it would also be useful to medical and biology students, both undergrads and others moving into the field. In fact, anyone with a general interest in cancer (as long as they have a reasonable scientific background) would greatly benefit from reading this marvelous book.