3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A wide-ranging odyssey into cancer, blending hard science and personal anecdote,
This review is from: The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine's Deepest Mystery (Hardcover)
From prehistoric times to current developments, Johnson surveys the phenomenon of cancer, all along blending personal anecdote with cutting-edge research. The popular science writer started his journey into cancer when his wife, Nancy, was diagnosed with a rare uterine variety. He took it as an opportunity not just for personal soul-searching (why her? why now?), but also for a wide-ranging odyssey into research about what causes cancer and how long it has been with us.
Johnson successfully balances (auto)biographical information and hard science, though some may struggle with the level of detail about cell biology and medical trials. Nancy's story reveals the harsh reality of cancer treatment – especially in America, where bureaucracy and astronomical medical bills exacerbate an already horrible experience. 'How quickly the unthinkable becomes routine,' Johnson reflects. The book ends on a sad note – though not with Nancy's death, one hastens to add. If only Johnson could have chosen to find more hope; instead he concludes, "With our tools and intelligence, we can strike small victories and hold off death for a while. But it is the tide that will eventually prevail." Ultimately, Siddhartha Mukherjee's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Emperor of All Maladies is the more comprehensive and optimistic study of cancer, but Johnson's is shorter and highly readable.
We have reached a point where no one is unaffected by cancer, directly or indirectly. That is to say, there is no one to whom this book will not be relevant. Some might be put off by both the weighty scientific subject and the pessimistic tone. However, I encourage reluctant readers to give it a try. You will learn more than you might expect, and explode many myths along the way.
(My full review is available at The Bookbag: http://www.thebookbag.co.uk/reviews/index.php?title=The_Cancer_Chronicles:_Unlocking_Medicine%27s_Deepest_Mystery_by_George_Johnson)