Posted by: erinserb | July 11, 2011

The Emperor Disrobed?

Mukherjee, Siddartha. The Emperor of All Maladies, A  Biography of Cancer.  New York: Scribner, 2010.

I have decided to give a extra “little” annotated bibliography here, why?  Because this work is perhaps one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. 

Cancer has touched every human being – in one way or another.  Dr. Mukherjee combines science, hope, personal struggle, and an enlightment to a “malady” we have dealt with (since the beginning of time)  and will be dealing with for generations to come.  This is not only a professional biography, i.e. cancer kills very professionally and often silently, it is also a personal biography of an oncologist whose skin peels off to reveal his true care and concern for his patients and his conveyance of the scourge that is cancer.

It is highly recommended reading – for me, it is personal, since the disease killed my father at 62 years, and my grandmother at 75 years – colon and pancreatic cancers respectively.  Recalling other friends and relatives stories here would take a long time.  Suffice to say, if you take time to read this, and can get past some of the serious science of cancer history and contemporary biomolecular jargon, you will be glad for both yourself and for others who may be interested whenever this subject is brought up.  The fact that we are our own “cancer factories” sometimes gone badly wrong is something that only science fiction could have imagined when the true story begins in the 1950’s with Dr. Sidney Farber’s noble quest of understanding and hope for a cure.

The more this story is read, the more fascinated one will become.  This is done not only examining  the science and the dedication of the researchers and doctors, but the true stories of the patients’ hopelessness, hopefulness, bewilderment and bravery during their collective encounters with the “Emperor”.  God willing, someday the Emperor will fully be disrobed and our quest for healthier generations to come will be realized.

Also, this book has seriously renewed my interest in health-sciences librarianship.  God willing, someday that renewal will be complete.


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