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Illuminating reading on the legacy of a cancer authority.

Stories of loss and hope from distinguished Harvard oncologist Scadden.

Having spent much of his career on the cancer battlegrounds, the author writes with authority that cancer is an “immutable fact of life.” When Scadden was growing up in the 1950s, he was confused and traumatized by the cancer deaths of three people he knew. As a medical student at Case Western Reserve University, the author encountered his first patient cases, which prepared him for a livelihood built on a delicate combination of medical precision and compassionate humanity. Scadden shares poignant and moving anecdotes of his patients as a student earning a real-world medical education—e.g., learning about childbirth from a gracious pregnant woman or delivering a devastating prognosis to a lymphoma victim. The author’s account of the personal pain of watching his own parents navigate cancer treatments leads into a probing discussion on how far early formative therapies have evolved, including how his work with stem cell research has branched out to encompass a wide array of afflictions. Scadden effectively weaves in clinical information on viral growth, research studies from a variety of medical revolutionaries, dissections of the early misconceptions and physiological mechanics of cancer, and a timeline for the AIDS epidemic, which he believes “gave every doctor, nurse, therapist, or technician the chance to become a better caregiver.” As co-founder of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Scadden is partly responsible for numerous medical breakthroughs through bone marrow stem cell research. He reminds readers that those dismal days of scant hope are gone and that the promise of modern technology and radical curative immunotherapies (including those he continues to develop) is making cancer a disease “that changes people’s lives, but [is] something they can speak of in past tense.” Lay readers may want to skirt around the book’s later chapters, laden with frequently complex medical jargon, to get to the heart and soul of Scadden’s passion.

Illuminating reading on the legacy of a cancer authority.

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-09275-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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