This book should be required reading for American high school students.
I learned so much about cancer, and Siddhartha Mukherjee conveys the epic nature of our struggle against this ancient disease, but without traipsing into exaggeration, melodrama, or spiritualness that can undermine other such battle cries. No, The Emperor of All Maladies presents the facts in the brutal and unrelenting manner of cancer itself – it is increasingly likely you will die from cancer, and we are closer to a miracle cure today only because we have gone done so many false alleys in decades previous.
For instance, the shock and awe style treatment of radical mastectomies and near-fatal chemotherapy, which was embedded in medical culture for many years until some brave clinicians began experimenting with more graduated approaches.
The book points at the clinical solution (therapies designed for specific variants of cancer) but not the political or cultural one. More work to be done, but I wish I had read this sooner!