This is a difficult, but fantastic book. Difficult, because it’s very painful to relive the tragedy of all the lives destroyed by cancer. Fantastic, because the book flows so well: it’s paced like a thriller, you hardly notice how much you’re learning. It’s like in the Matrix where Neo states: “I know Kung Fu,” except in this case “I know cancer.” Not as cool but tragically, more useful.
The opening historical section left me deeply moved by the suffering and and nobility of the patients, and somewhat shocked by the daring of the doctors throughout the years, but also just amazed at the tenacity they’ve brought to the job, trying approach after approach and making slow, but, significant progress.
Then, in the second section, it’s exciting and satisfying to experience the discovery of genetic cancer therapies starting in the mid-70s. I now have a working knowledge of oncogenes, oncoviruses, and the history and method of cancer’s surgical, chemological, and genetic therapies. The medical writing is amazingly clear.
The book left me cautiously optimistic about the development of more and more nontoxic, genetic cancer therapies in the coming years. It has been a long, long, incredibly painful slog, but we are making progress.