cover image The End of the Beginning: Cancer, Immunity, and the Future of a Cure

The End of the Beginning: Cancer, Immunity, and the Future of a Cure

Michael Kinch. Pegasus, $27.95 (314p) ISBN 978-1-64313-025-5

Kinch (Between Hope and Fear), a radiation oncology professor at Washington University School of Medicine, approaches cancer philosophically in this well-grounded, if not groundbreaking, history of the search for a cure. Asking what is meant by the “deceiving” word “cancer,” he provides a nuanced answer that debunks misconceptions, such as cancer being a disease of accelerated cell growth, and painstakingly describes the immunization-based targeting of the disease. He sometimes indulges in elaborate asides, such as about how John D. Rockefeller’s family background motivated his founding the Rockefeller Institute, but generally remains focused, discussing many unusual cases—for example, actor Alec Guinness and his wife, Merula Silvia Salaman, dying in the same year of a rare carcinoma. Kinch also describes and explains the pioneering research linking cancer and viruses conducted worldwide during the last century. His own experiences in the 1980s bio-technology boom only come into play toward the end, where he describes the “ugly imbroglio of finger-pointing and greed” that blocked cutting-edge research. Readers may wish Kinch had given more time to this story but they will still gain from his thoughtful book an improved understanding of the “promises and perils” involved in finding a cure for cancer. Agent: Don Fehr, Trident Media Group. (Apr.)