THE FORGETTING: UNDERSTANDING ALZHEIMER'S: A BIOGRAPHY OF A DISEASE.

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9780002571746: THE FORGETTING: UNDERSTANDING ALZHEIMER'S: A BIOGRAPHY OF A DISEASE.

Winner of the 2002 BMA Popular Medicine Book Prize: This is a haunting literary and scientific examination of Alzheimer's disease and the race to find a cure.`A truly remarkable book - the definitive work on Alzheimer's, both in social and medical terms, "The Forgetting" is incisive, humane, never ponderous, full of dry humour and brilliantly written with quiet, unpretentious authority. As a layman with personal experience of "caring" for an Alzheimer's sufferer I am well aware of the stages of the disease and its prognosis and ending. Shenk is excellent on all these, and in his reflections on memory and the individual, and the individual's response to the progress of the disease. I can't imagine a book on Alzheimer's being better researched and understood, or presented with greater sympathy.' John BayleyIn 1906 Alois Alzheimer dissected and examined the cerebral cortex of Auguste D's brain and became the first scientist in medical history to link a specific brain pathology to behavioural changes. The disease named after him, turns otherwise active and healthy people into living ghosts. It is a rare condition for those in their 40s and 50s but 10% of the 65+ population suffers from it and 50% of the 85+. It is longevity's revenge and as the baby boom generation drifts into its elderly years the number of Alzheimer's victims is expected to quadruple, making it the fastest-growing disease in developed countries.As Adam Phillips writes in his foreword `This remarkable book will radically change our notions of looking after people and our assumptions about independence. Out of fear of mortality we have idealised health and youth and competence. "The Forgetting" reminds us among many other things that there is more to life than that.'Shenk's history of Alzheimer's is both poignant and scientific, grounded by the fundamental belief that memory forms the basis of our selves, our souls, and the meaning in our lives.

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Review:

First attracted to his subject by its horrific ability to destroy the human mind and body, journalist David Shenk ultimately finds reasons to accept Alzheimer's disease--and almost forgive it--in The Forgetting. Shenk describes his work as a biography, the life story of a biological outlaw that sends victims "on a slow but certain trajectory toward forgetting and death." But his illuminating portrait of this growing epidemic offers more than a basic chronology. Shenk begins with the disease's christening in 1906, when German physician Alois Alzheimer discovered mysterious tangles and plaques in the brain of a dead woman who in life had suffered severe memory loss and dementia. The tale unfolds to reveal a host of intriguing players: struggling scientists (the clever, the bullheaded, and the pharmaceutically endowed), politicians divided by opposing priorities, exhausted caregivers, and patients whose biological clocks virtually tick backward over an average eight-year period. It includes impossible twists: longer life expectancies and successful treatments for other diseases mean more cases of Alzheimer's will inevitably occur. Shenk's graceful synthesis of personal accounts (from Plato to Reagan) with a century-long search for answers and cures leads him to an impressive conclusion. Perhaps Alzheimer's disease is much like winter: "Once it is gone, we'll face less hardship, but we'll also have lost an important lens on life." --Liane Thomas

From the Back Cover:

“Riveting . . . Superb . . . A wonderfully readable history of the brain and of memory.” –San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

“A remarkable addition to the literature of the science of the mind . . . Shenk has drawn together threads of neurobiology, art history, and psychology into a literary portrait of Alzheimer’s disease perfectly balanced between sorrow and wonder, devastation and awe.” –Los Angeles Times Book Review

“An elegant new book . . . Shenk rises above the usual rhetoric of combat and cure, enabling us to confront Alzheimer's not as an alien pestilence but as part of the human condition.” –Newsweek

“Written with a researcher’s attention to detail and a storyteller’s ear.” –The New York Times Book Review

“Destined to be a classic . . . Shenk’s guided tour is free of medical jargon, filled instead with clear and sometimes memorable phrasing.” –The Seattle Times

“A fascinating meditation . . . Shenk has found something beautiful and soulful in a condition that forces people to live in the perpetual ‘now.’ . . . Deeply affecting.” —The Washington Post Book World

“A graceful, masterful portrait of [the] illness. . . Readers can’t help but be taken by Shenk’s humanity and compassion, which brim throughout.” –The Los Angeles Times

“Compelling and immensely humane . . . Shenk’s integration of historical and scientific information and personal stories makes for an absorbing read.” —Newsday

“A dazzling literary and scientific history of Alzheimer’s disease.” —Detroit Free Press

“A brilliant and quirky new book on Alzheimer’s [that] offers food for thought on the unthinkable and a new, deeper understanding of the coming epidemic.” —Salon.com

“Carefully researched and engagingly written.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Shenk makes the science understandable and recounts personal stories that are both moving and illuminating. . . . A fascinating account of what memories are made of.” —Business Week

“An excellent new book.” —The New Yorker

“Beautifully written and philosophically minded.” —Time Out New York

“Fascinating . . . As good as the science in this book is, it takes a back seat to Shenk’s eloquent reflections on the meaning of memory and aging, and their connection to our sense of self.” —The Washington Monthly

“Absorbing and enlightening...an engrossing story.” –The Times Literary Supplement (London)

“Told plainly and movingly. . . . Anyone appalled by the possibility of losing their mind, or who has watched another’s being stolen by Alzheimer’s, should read this excellent book: I guess that’s all of us.”–New Scientist

“Shenk is a wonderful writer on science....He has an eye for the social and financial forces that shape scientific interests and he brings key players, whether proteins or people, to dramatic life.” –The Independent (London)

“Highly recommended.” –Journal of the American Medical Association

“The definitive work on Alzheimer’s. A truly remarkable book.”–John Bayley, author of Elegy for Iris

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David. Shenk
Published by HarperCollins (2002)
ISBN 10: 0002571749 ISBN 13: 9780002571746
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Book Description HarperCollins, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 2571749

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