How I got the book:
It was only a matter of time, I got my hands on the Pulitzer prize winning international best seller.
The plot as the book summary notes, is about the biography of cancer. The long journey of how humans have faced this once incurable disease. The author meticulously ties up the arduous history from the Egyptian mummies to the patients in his own clinic in 4000 years time scale. The story more or less revolves around the development in the last 150 years. The chapters are ordered very well giving prominent space for most of the important historical advancements in not just oncology but in medicine, research, science and human health overall. Though the book rests heavily on history and books of other researchers over time, it is definitely a masterpiece and a credible original work. The non-fiction though it is, never bores even for a moment and in that way is very gripping. He also inevitably touches the etymology of cancer through out the history.
His prose is of scientific precision but at the same time with literary flare. In that way he dons many roles as a doctor, writer, statistician, researcher, lobbyist etc. By the way, even a layman with no background in biology or medicine should find it really easy to go through the medical and scientific terms. The author is very lavish in his use of “quotes” from popular writers as well as not so popular writers. One such,
If a man die, it is because death has first possessed his imagination- William Carlos
The quotes are given in front of the chapters and has a meaningful context to the chapter it precedes. The doctor-author very rarely gets sentimental about his patients to drag the reader to scorn. He is always in a wonderful vantage point to observe researchers, patients, scientists, lobbyists and laymen in his epic work. The tone gives a humane touch whenever required sometimes even arguing for the cancerous cells as he himself claims the cancerous cells to be very similar to our normal cells.
Whether you know anyone with Cancer or not, whether you have smoked or not, it doesn’t matter, go out and read this one. One of a kind.