The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddharta Mukherjee

Synopsis: The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence. Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with—and perished from—for more than five thousand years.

The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance, but also of hubris, paternalism, and misperception. Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths, told through the eyes of his predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out “war against cancer.” The book reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist.

From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave may have cut off her diseased breast, to the nineteenth-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy to Mukherjee’s own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through fiercely demanding regimens in order to survive—and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease.

Riveting, urgent, and surprising, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments. It is an illuminating book that provides hope and clarity to those seeking to demystify cancer.

Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction
Winner of the 2011 PEN/EO Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

Published: November 2010 | ISBN-13: 978-1-4391-0795-9

Upcoming PBS Series directed by Ken Burns –

I read The Emperor of All Maladies earlier this year and found it to be one of the most beautifully written science books I have read in a long time. Mukherjee does a wonderful job covering the history of cancer in great technical detail without getting bogged down. He switches between the history of cancer and the human stories within its history with a light touch and while this book comes in at over 500+ pages, it really is a book that is worth your time. Read it! – @popsciguyoz

NYTimes Book Review
The Guardian Book Review
Wall Street Journal Book Review
Oprah Magazine Book Review

Amazon Associates (SBAD gets a % of sales from books sold via these links, to help us do more work for science books)

Paperback Edition:The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
Audio CD Edition: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
Kindle Edition: The Emperor of All Maladies


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s