Synopses & Reviews
A provocative, intellectually vibrant, eloquently written look at recent advances in the war on cancer that will challenge everything you thought you knew about the disease — and provide hope for tomorrow and into the future.
When science writer George Johnson's wife was diagnosed with a metastatic cancer, he plunged himself into a study of the disease and of the people who dedicate their lives to understanding and combating it. What he discovered is that a revolution is now under way — a thrilling explosion of theories about what cancer really is and where it comes from. Here we have his luminous accounts of, among other revelations: tumors that evolve like alien creatures inside the body... paleoncologists who have found petrified tumors clinging to the skeletons of dinosaurs and human ancestors... the surprising changes in science's understanding of the causes of cancer, with dietary specifics and environmental toxins taking a lesser role. The Cancer Chronicles is endlessly surprising and as radiant in its prose as it is authoritative in its eye-opening science.
"It's his wife Nancy's grueling fight against a rare and 'rabid' uterine cancer that prompts science writer Johnson (The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments) to delve into the efforts to study, treat, and beat what Siddhartha Mukherjee dubbed 'The Emperor of All Maladies.' This elegant and insightful chronicle is at once intensely personal and meticulously studious, focusing not just on one cancer, but on the evolution of all cancers. He finds it 'comforting... knowing that cancer has always been with us, that it is not all our fault, that you can take every precaution and still something in the genetic coils can become unsprung.' Cancer, he explains, can be blamed on 'factors that have been present for a long time' (the disease beset even prehistoric dinosaurs). In fact, researchers are finding that any one case of cancer may have multiple causes, whether environmental, hereditary, or 'elusive... bad luck.' Cancer, he concludes, 'is a phenomenon' that is 'mostly random.' Yet we are getting a clearer picture of how it works: cancer's 'metabolic puzzle' may lie in 'how the body stores and uses energy... Insulin, estrogen, obesity, cancer all are tied in to the same metabolic knot.' This is extraordinary scholarship delivered with an intimate poignancy. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
George Johnsosn writes regularly about science for The New York Times. He has also written for National Geographic, Slate, Discover, Scientific American, Wired, and The Atlantic, and his work has been included in The Best American Science Writing. A former Alicia Patterson fellow, he has received awards from PEN and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and his books were twice finalists for the Royal Society's book prize. He is a co-host of Science Faction on bloggingheads.tv and writes the blog Fire in the Mind for Discover. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.