cover image Radical: The Science, Culture and History of Breast Cancer in America

Radical: The Science, Culture and History of Breast Cancer in America

Kate Pickert. Little, Brown Spark, $35 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-47032-2

Pickert, a Loyola Marymount College journalism professor, delivers a compassionate, lucid, and well-researched account of historic and ongoing attempts to combat breast cancer. Woven into Pickert’s evenhanded narrative is her own story of being diagnosed with the disease at age 35 and navigating options for dealing with a particularly aggressive form. For all the efforts directed toward breast cancer awareness (“it seems there is not a consumer-product category in America that is pink-ribbon-free”), she finds that many people know relatively little about it. To illuminate the great progress that’s been made in treatment and the many challenges that remain, Pickert pays visits to a UCLA operating suite, to observe a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, and to the sprawling campus of the nation’s first biotechnology company, Genentech, to learn about its drug development efforts. She interviews Dr. Larry Norton, “arguably the most influential living breast cancer doctor in America”; Dr. Laura Esserman, head of a large-scale trial aimed at updating breast cancer screening norms; and a slew of epidemiologists, patients, and advocates. A skilled and thorough journalist, Pickert crafts a comprehensive and up-to-date account of a disease that strikes one in eight American women. Agent: Richard Pine, Inkwell Management. (Oct.)