The Secret History of the War on Cancer

The Secret History of the War on Cancer

by Devra Davis
     
 

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From the National Book Award finalist, author of When Smoke Ran Like Water, a searing, haunting and deeply personal account of the War on CancerSee more details below

Overview

From the National Book Award finalist, author of When Smoke Ran Like Water, a searing, haunting and deeply personal account of the War on Cancer

Editorial Reviews

David Oshinsky
While much of this may sound familiar to a moderately informed reader, Davis puts it together in a way that illuminates the underbelly of medical research…the best watchdogs are often the most obsessive, using shock and alarm as a prelude to discussion. And for many readers of The Secret History of the War on Cancer, I suspect, Devra Davis is a natural for this role.
—The Washington Post
Kirkus Reviews
Cancer remains such a prolific killer, says the author, because the medical community focuses on treatment rather than prevention of the root causes. Davis (When Smoke Ran Like Water: Tales of Environmental Deception and the Battle Against Pollution, 2002, etc.), an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at University of Pittsburgh's Cancer Institute, offers a detailed history of workplace and environmental carcinogens that predates Nixon's "war" on cancer in the '70s. She reminds us of Sir Percival Pott's observations of scrotal cancers in English chimney sweeps, the radiation-induced cancers that followed the discovery of X-rays, the Curies' work with radium and, less well-known, the research of Nazi scientists who linked tobacco to cancer and led officials to discourage Germans from smoking during World War II. The German scientists were pioneers in the new field of epidemiology, which even today is denigrated by some since it involves methods like surveys (unreliable) and statistics (suspect). Much of the text makes for grim but fascinating reading as Davis reviews the tobacco story and describes conditions in steel mills, copper smelters, chemical factories and plastics plants, where workers are exposed to insidious and lethal solvents and agents such as asbestos, benzene, formaldehyde and dioxin. She also immortalizes the many poor people in small towns next to waste dumps or downstream from hugely polluted rivers who died from cancer or whose children suffered birth defects. In almost every case, the offending corporation lied, denied, delayed or bought-off complaints, recruiting the best legal talent and, sad to say, even highly respected scientists.Rather than engage in what has been a fruitless battle of litigation, vengeance and counterproductive legislation, Davis proposes a kind of truth-and-reconciliation approach to get industry and public-health experts mutually involved. But she notes that, unfortunately, it's simply not happening fast enough, and she goes on to raise her own concerns about cell phones, Ritalin and aspartame. One can hope, however, that Davis's book will assure that proper attention is paid.
From the Publisher

Washington Post
“Davis put it together in a way that illuminates the underbelly of medical research."

O magazine
"In her devastating, 20-years-in-the-making expose...Devra Davis... shows how cancer researchers, bankrolled by petrochemical and pharmaceutical companies, among others, collude in 'the science of doubt promotion.'...Davis diagnoses two of the most lethal diseases of modern society: secrecy and self-interest. This book is a dramatic plea for a cure."

Discover
“Davis’s new book, The Secret History of the War on Cancer, is a wake-up call for all those who have accepted the poisons of our age of plenty without a blink.”

Lancet Oncology
“A feisty and highly accessible writer, Davis lays her cards on the table...a rattling good read and raises vital issues that remain relevant today.”

Booklist starred review
&ldquoSeveral big ACS [American Cancer Society] contributors, are heavily invested in keeping the public from becoming fully informed of the risks of myriad chemicals to which we and our children are exposed.... Money, it seems, trumps all. Treatment and cures are hefty profit generators, and it’s expensive to change or eliminate the use of potentially toxic chemicals.... Kudos to Davis for stepping up to the plate.”

The Times (Higher Education Supplement)
The Secret History of the War on Cancer reflects the complex interaction of science, politics and society in the 20th century. I am left wondering how it will change in the 21st.”

Toronto Globe & Mail
“Easily the most important science book of the year.... Each and every chapter in this book offers an uncomfortable revelation.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Davis is excellent at following the money and fearless about naming names.... With this work, Devra Davis has permanently reframed the ‘war.’ It should be required reading for those with cancer histories in their families. In other words, just about all of us.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer / Best 20 Books of 2007
“This searing book from a University of Pittsburgh epidemiologist lays out 35 years of medical greed and cowardice that left millions of Americans vulnerable to environmental and occupational cancer deaths. Countless political books attempt to influence the electorate, but this one stands out from the pack, demonstrating why money changes everything.”

New York Law Journal
“Compelling and well-written text moves from past to present to assess scores of contemporary workplace and lifestyle hazards, from cell phones to household cleansers to diet soft drinks, and makes clear that the law has been useless in protecting our health.”

New York Review of Books
“Joining this increasingly fractious debate with devastating force, Devra Davis, director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, claims that the war “has been fighting many of the wrong battles with the wrong weapons and the wrong leaders.” She calculates that these “fundamental misdirections” have thrown away well over a million American lives. Her aim in The Secret History of the War on Cancer is to deliver nothing less than a “reckoning” of this terrible toll.”

Library Journal
“Davis writes with passion, driven by the conviction that premature deaths among her family members resulted from exposure to industrial toxins...a powerful call to action.”

Kirkus Reviews
“A detailed history of workplace and environmental carcinogens that predates Nixon's "war" on cancer in the '70s.... Fascinating reading as Davis reviews the

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465010318
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
11/20/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
528
File size:
4 MB

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