We cannot rely on advances in molecular biology to beat the scourge of cancer. So argues journalist Leaf, who got interested in the subject via the impressive success story of the drug Gleevec, which effectively delivers targeted cancer therapy to certain leukemia patients.
This was a special circumstance, the author learned after meeting the CEO of Novartis, the company that developed the drug, in 2002; Gleevec represented a radical therapeutic advance, but most cancers are more complex than leukemia. Even though his professional expertise was in finance and business journalism rather than science (he has been executive editor of Fortune and other magazines), Leaf was fascinated by the implications of this story; since then, he has conducted interviews with more than 1,000 people, including oncologists, geneticists, doctors and patients. Over time, he writes, he came to understand that there was no quick fix for cancer. While advances in oncology, especially early diagnosis, have reduced the risk of dying from cancer, the incidence of cancer is increasing as the population ages, imposing a growing social burden. More Americans will die from cancer over the next 15 months than the total of combat fatalities since 1775, writes Leaf, attributing that daunting statistic to a dysfunctional "cancer culture.” He dates the problem to the National Cancer Act, passed in response to President Richard Nixon's call for a war on cancer. Funding was increased, but rather than establish an institution modeled on NASA, dedicated solely to eradicating cancer, Congress assigned the responsibility to the National Institutes of Health, with a mandate to support university research through competitive public/private partnerships. This system fosters bureaucratic inertia and aversion to risk. While hopeful that future scientific advances will occur, Leaf believes that the system must be revamped now, arguing that free exchange of information and a major upgrade in preventative medicine are the keys to improvement.
An important evaluative study meriting serious public discussion.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)