Betrayed by nature: the War on cancer Dr Robin Hesketh Palgrave Macmillan, £16.99
One wet afternoon in 2008, a scientist sat down to try and explain all that we know about cancer. It turned out to be a bigger task than he first thought but, four years later, we can all be glad that he stuck at it and produced a book that is both thoroughly informative and highly enjoyable to read.
The author, Dr Robin Hesketh, is a cancer biologist of some repute and has worked at the biochemistry department at Cambridge University for over 25 years. He has personally worked with many of the key players in the story of cancer treatment and relates many tales from the front line.
The book is divided into four main sections. In part one Hesketh explains the history of cancer and cancer research. Parts two and three explain the basics of how cells should normally divide and grow and then what goes wrong with various bits of molecular machinery in cancerous cells. In part four we learn about the detection and treatment of the disease and where we are going in the future.
I suspect this book is primarily intended for those who have suffered from cancer and want to understand what has happened to their bodies. But Hesketh does such a good job explaining the fundamentals of cell biology (often without the reader realising that he has done so) that anybody, from GCSE students to senior clinical biochemists, will find something of interest in this highly recommended tome.
Dr Oliver Jones CBiol MSB