#BookReview: The First Cell by Azra Raza

The Myth Of (Cancer) Experience. This book actually does a phenomenal job of using both hard data and anecdotal case studies to show what the current state of cancer research and treatment is – and why it is costing us far too much in both lives and dollars. This is a cancer doc/ researcher who has been in the field longer than this reader has been alive, and yet she attacks the problem in a way that genuinely makes sense: if cancer is effectively a group of cells that begin replicating uncontrollably, the best way to eliminate this phenomenon is to detect these cells as early as possible and eliminate them before they become problematic. Using several patient case studies – including her husband, who apparently started out as her boss, and her daughter’s best friend among them – Raza does an excellent job of providing names and faces (yes, the book has pictures of the patients as well) to go along with the alarming yet decently documented data. (Roughly 18% of the book is bibliography, which is perhaps a touch low – 25-30% is more typical – but is better than one might expect from such a case study driven narrative.) Ultimately this book actually makes the case for The Myth of Experience better than the authors of the book by that title did, which is actually fairly interesting to this reader. 🙂 And the Urdu poetry (with English translations as well) was a nice touch to lighten a text that could otherwise be a bit dreary. Very much recommended.

This review of The First Cell by Azra Raza was originally written on December 13, 2020.