Mapping Fate:: A Family at Risk Confronts a Fatal Disease

Alice Wexler, Author Crown Publishers $23 (294p) ISBN 978-0-8129-1710-9
Huntington's disease (HD), the devastating motor degeneration that often leads to insanity and suicide, is the subject of this searing memoir. In 1968, Wexler's mother was so diagnosed, prompting a family mission that led to their formation of the Hereditary Disease Foundation. Parallel stories unfold when Wexler and her sister begin to anticipate the possibility of their own genetic doom as secrets of their mother's family history are revealed and scientific research eventually isolates the genetic marker for HD, formerly called Huntington's chorea. This victory remains a mixed blessing since, as Wexler states, ``identifying the gene does not immediately... translate into effective therapy; what has changed is the psychological landscape.'' Until now, folksinger Woody Guthrie's has been the most prominent name associated with HD; this report speaks to others afflicted by Huntington's. 25,000 first printing. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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