The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Emperor of All MaladiesThe Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Do I really need to summarize this one? Mukherjee has put together an amazingly detailed, complex look at the history of cancer. It’s called a biography because cancer is so complicated and its history is so interesting that to call it anything else would be wrong. In this book, cancer is an evil enemy, one that doctors have come close to defeating but, as you will learn if you read it, may never be eradicated completely as it is ever-growing and changing.

I have to be honest and say that The Emperor of All Maladies took me forever to read. I chose to listen to the audio version, and I must admit that it wasn’t the kind of book that I compulsively listened to – in fact, it was quite the opposite. While it was interesting, I would stop listening for a while and had to force myself to pick it up and start again. About halfway through, I almost gave up on it, but since I was so far involved I made myself finish. While I’m glad I finished the book, it was LONG. And while I know it was fascinating, I think you have to be really patient to get through it.

And yes, the book was incredibly interesting. This is a complete look at cancer over the years – how far the research and treatments have come, what the doctors have learned, etc. But it was also scary because as much progress has been made, people still die from cancer every single day. There are still so many unknowns about cancer, and Mukherjee was not afraid to point out that fact.

I don’t know. I can recommend the book, if you are patient enough to get through it. And/or if the topic interests you enough. But it was a difficult read for me. And I know with absolute certainty I would not have made it through the print version. If you are an impatient reader like myself, and you are determined to read this one, I would recommend the audio.

9 thoughts on “The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee”

  1. I actually ordered this on audio, but showed up in an MP3 format, which I cannot figure out how to get on my iPod. And there is NO WAY I could have listened to it in my car only. It would have taken me a year. Sometimes books like this are tough on audio…so many details.

  2. I read over half of this last year and was FASCINATED! But then I put it down for a little and have yet to pick it up! I really want to get back to it but even though I liked it, I do feel hesitant to get back into it. And I’m afraid I won’t remember what I already read!

  3. I’m so jealous you finished this! I started it but like Jenny, for some reason I put it down and then never picked it up again. And yet it *was* fascinating. I need to get this back into my queue!

  4. You know my story with this one already but now that my stepfather is dying of cancer, it’s just not the right time for me to be listening to this one. It was a hard book to get through, knowing what I know personally, but one that was indeed intriguing. I learned so much, but in light of what’s going on, it was also scary for me. Great review! I don’t know if I will ever pick this one up again.

  5. I can see why this book would be interesting to many people but, for the same reason, would be tough to read. Sounds like the author wrote a good book about a difficult subject.

  6. I picked this one up last spring when cancer struck my family but then it was actually to close to home for me to be able to read. Now that the worst is over, I definitely want to get to it. But I’m going to take what you’ve said to heart and know that I’ll be spending a long time, spreading out the reading of this one.

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