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It was a cloudy September Saturday in 1980, and after the quiet of summer, Boston seemed energized by autumn's return. Beacon Hill's narrow streets were clogged with cars, its crooked-brick walks filled with residents and students who seemed all business. On the Charles River even the sailboats crossing the watery line between Boston and Cambridge flew forward at a clip. A few blocks east on Blossom Street, which curves behind Massachusetts General Hospital, members of the rock band Fantasy and I moved more like laden barges. Sleep-deprived and hungover from the previous night's fling, we nonetheless managed with an elevator's aid to move the band's musical equipment into the Flying Machine, the nightspot atop the Holiday Inn that attracted everyone from visiting Portuguese sailors to the occasional Brahmin.
Four months earlier, in May of 1980, the University of Rochester had sent me into the world with what I hoped would be sufficient padding bachelor's degrees in both history and microbiology. The one, Time Past, had filled me with an indelible impression of the patterns and trends that span recorded centuries. The other, Emergings of Time Future, had left me startled by the phoenix soaring out of the present-the molecular-genetics revolution. Biology's horizon was filled with elaborate possibilities far beyond the imaginings of such tour-de-force microbe hunters as Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch, and Paul Ehrlich.
In the course of my history studies, I'd devoured Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and taken away his valuable model. One set of beliefs ascends over time, then falls under the weight of a crisis, which inevitably ushers in yet another belief system that rises and similarly collapses, and so on, until there's a sense, as from a wave rolling forward, that you can extrapolate the nature of the next crisis and the new visions it will unfold. Now a scientist, I'm even more aware that the models we put our faith in are mostly wrong. Someday they will be as outmoded as the idea, imagined by Franz Mesmer in the eighteenth century, of how to relieve people of disease: Stand them across from healthy folk in a tub of water, have both groups grasp a long metal chain, and let the positive forces of animal magnetism flow from the healthy into the infirm, miraculously curing them. For scientific revolutions to take flight, current theories have to be questioned, the status quo disrupted. Since my years at Rochester, I've always wanted to induce the next crisis, inspire the next paradigm shift. This is the challenge of science-to shed dogma and get closer to the truth.
But scientific revolutions were the furthest thing from my mind that Saturday atop the Holiday Inn. I was in the throes of a postcollege existentialist crisis. Why did I exist? What was life? Living life as a bushyhaired, scruffy musician and playing keyboard once again with my musician friends from high school days seemed the best way to regain some perspective. When I was ten, my Uncle John had let me fold and unfold the huge red accordion he played in old-age centers around our hometown of Cranston, Rhode island, and from then on I'd been glued to the keys of pianos, electric organs, and synthesizers. Blues, jazz, rock, punk, improv, some classical. One form fed another. I'd come to realize that when I played music on a daily basis-even on an informal basis, as I had throughout college-life was always better. When I didn't, disaster struck...
|1||Cleave, Zap, Blot, Probe||1|
|2||The Core of the Matter||21|
|6||From Famine to Feast||99|
|8||Of Mice and People||135|
|10||The 42 Nidus||173|
|11||Untangling a Cascade||191|
|12||A Gamble for Hope||207|
Posted February 6, 2001
This book presents an absolutely fascinating account of Alzheimer's disease research. The authors deliver a very balanced account of Alzheimer's disease gene research giving ample coverage and credit to dozens of worthy scientists working on this terrible disease. This was a great and exciting read--highly recommended!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 30, 2001
After reading about Dr. Tanzi in the book Hard to Forget and seeing him profiled on tv, I was really expecting a fascinating book. But this book is a big disappointment. At times this seems like a pr piece for Dr. Tanzi, with so much focus on his awards and how important his research is. There's not much humility or dark night of the scientific soul here. I liked Daniel Pollen's Hannah's Heirs, which another reviewer has mentioned -- even though the writing isn't first rate in that book, either, it seems more objective and therefore a 'truer' story. As for this book, all I can say is that it's much more interesting to read something about Dr. Tanzi than it is to read something written by him!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 3, 2000
Decoding Darkness is a riveting read. A lay person not familiar with medicine can enjoy this book as well as the most educated doctor. It is brilliantly written by Dr. Tanzi who shows humor and compassion throughout the book. It tells of the fascinating journey from the early days of Tanzi's research to the present day, the changes, the discoveries and the disappointments. The book gives you an inside view of this horrific disease and its traumatic effects on not only the patient, but the family too. It is a must read by anyone who has been touched by this disease and those who have been lucky enough to escape it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 3, 2000
Once I started reading Decoding Darkness, it was difficult to put down. I found the book to be a very intriguing story of a scientist who apparently is dedicating his life to finding the cause and cure of Alzheimer's Disease. Dr. Tanzi wrote and Ann Parson's narrated this book in such a way that it held my interest from cover to cover. It was written with a vast amount of information, but easy to understand and with a great deal of humor. I suggest this book for any family who has been afflicted with Alzheimer's and everyone who has a human interest in the curing of diseases and of the people who dedicate their lives to these causes.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 23, 2000
This fascinating account transports the reader to the front lines of Alzheimer's disease research. This book brings the reader on a insightful, humorous, and poignant journey from the early days of AD research to the current, where drugs to treat this disease seem close at hand. Like so many others, my family knows the horrors of this disease and are so thankful to AD researchers like Dr. Tanzi who have devoted their lives to unraveling this disease. I found this personal tale very engaging and I have recommended to family and friends.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.