One of the “Five Best books on doctors' lives… compelling and wonderfully told.”The Wall Street Journal
“Jacobs' exquisite biography of the man who helped make Hodgkin's disease a curable conition is also an insight into the adventures of scientific inquiry and the mavericks who make it happen.”San Francisco Chronicle
“So beautifully done…deserves wide readership”Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
“A riveting read, meticulously covering a time of dramatic creativity in American medicine while revealing the personal inflighting that took place behind the scenes.”The Pharos
“An accurate account of an extraordinary story in medical history … told through the lives of individual patients and their heart-wrenching tales.”Journal of the American College of Radiology
In the 1950's, ninety-five percent of patients with Hodgkin's Disease, a cancer of lymph tissue which afflicts young adults, died. Today, most are cured, due mainly to the efforts of Dr. Henry Kaplan, one of the foremost physician-scientist in the history of cancer medicine. Called a "saint" by some, a "malignant son-of-a-bitch" by others, he changed the face of cancer therapy. Kaplan's passion to cure cancer dominated his life and helped him weather the controversy that followed in the wake of each of his innovations. But it extracted a high price, leaving personal causalities along the way.
Jacobs presents a dual drama--a biography of this multi-faceted man who called cancer his "Moby Dick" and the history of Hodgkin's disease: the serendipitous discoveries of radiation and chemotherapy, improving cure rates, and unanticipated toxicities. Lives of individual patients, bold enough to undergo experimental therapies, lend poignancy to Kaplan's successes and failures.