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The Breakthrough


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About the Author

Charles Graeber is a contributing editor for Wired and a contributor to publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ, Vogue, and many others. He has received many awards, and his work has been featured on NPR, CNN, the BBC, and numerous other media outlets.


'Only Graeber, one of America's greatest non-fiction writers, could take a subject so complex, dense and sprawling and turn it into a rollicking high-tension medical thriller. Masterful.'

-- Douglas Rogers, award-winning journalist and author of The Last Resort

'A gripping chronicle of the 100-year overnight success of immunotherapy. For myself and millions of other cancer survivors, The Breakthrough is a book of immense and essential hope.'

-- Michael Fitzgerald, co-founder and CEO of Submittable and author of Radiant Days

'There is no villain more ruthless than cancer, which has robbed us all of loved ones who had to endure untold suffering before they succumbed. But after decades of frustration and toil, scientists finally understand how to vanquish the disease by activating the human body's natural defences. The intimate stories behind this triumph lie at the heart of Charles Graeber's The Breakthrough, an expertly crafted and exhilarating account of life-saving ingenuity at its most dazzling. You will never encounter another book so incisive about the art of medical sleuthing, or so poetic about our innate drive to hold on to all that's beautiful in this world for as long as we can.'

-- Brendan I. Koerner, Wired contributing editor and author of The Skies Belong to Us

'Lucid and informed ... Graeber gives readers a basis for both understanding the challenges involved and for cautious optimism that a cure can be found.'

* Publishers Weekly *

'Graeber concisely reviews the science of cancer ... The risks of tinkering with an intricate immune system are obviously high, even perilous. But the potential reward is a cure. Exciting reading.'

* Booklist *

'Imagine a vaccine that could cure cancer. As this book reports, that possibility may not be far off ... [T]he book offers hope for more effective treatments in the near future. A readable survey of the emerging field of immunotherapy in cancer treatment.'

* Kirkus *

'In Mr Graeber's hands, the evolution of immuno-oncology is both captivating and heartbreaking.'

-- David A. Shaywitz * The Wall Street Journal *

'Graeber's writing is swift and clear, as if he can barely contain his enthusiasm for the subject - and, in fact, he can't contain it ... One or two chapters are weighted down by talk of cell division and the like but, for the most part, Graeber paints vivid portraits of people who have cancer or are trying to conquer it ... a rare and thrilling thing: a hopeful, even inspiring, book about cancer.'

-- Chris Hewitt * Minneapolis Star Tribune *

'The extraordinary story of how medical research may finally have made the ultimate breakthrough - a cure for cancer.'

-- Bianca Nogrady * Sydney Morning Herald *

'The new book by Charles Graeber, The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer, artfully traces the history of old and new developments that may have - finally - resulted in an actual cure for the most dreaded of all diseases.'

-- Mimi Swartz * The New York Times *

'Fascinating and engaging ... Written with the verve and tension of a medical thriller, Graeber vividly brings to life the scientists and physicians on the front-line battle with cancer and details in simple terms their efforts and breakthroughs.'

* Canberra Weekly *

'The Breakthrough not only provides good background and good understanding for patients, but is also a wonderful read, a book easily picked up but not easily put down - I'd recommend it for any patient interested in immunology of cancer.'

-- Dr. James L. Gulley MD, PhD, Director of Medical Oncology, Chief of Immunology, National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

'Crisp and suspenseful ... an inspiring medical narrative.'

* BBC *

'Graeber does it again. He takes a complex topic - this time advances in cancer treatment - and weaves an engaging narrative that engages you to the end. With cancer as a leading cause of illness and death, this book is a timely and important account of the challenges and possibilities for new horizons in cancer treatment.'

-- Diana J. Mason, PhD, Senior Policy Service Professor (George Washington University School of Nursing), Professor Emerita (Hunter College, City University of New York)

'[A] deft, detailed study of cancer immunotherapy ... From the once-discredited pioneer William Coley to immunologist and Nobel laureate James P. Allison, they form a brilliant, driven, admirably stubborn group that Graeber brings vividly to life.'

* Nature *

'Fascinating ... [Graeber] weaves human stories with accounts of scientific progress, looking beyond the "cut, burn, and poison techniques" - surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy - to focus on the myriad ways the immune system can attack cancer, and provides hope that a cure might not be beyond imagination.'

* The National Book Review *

'The Breakthrough, reads like a crime thriller because that's what it is - the true story of a dedicated, persistent group of doctors and scientists stalking a killer: cancer ... Brilliant.'

* Australian Financial Review *

'An entertaining and moving portrait of [Charles Graeber's] trade ... As skilled a wordsmith as a surgeon.'

-- Robin Osborne * GPSpeak *

Praise for The Good Nurse:

'A stunning book ... that should and does bring to mind In Cold Blood ... the story appeals to prurient interests, as does any graphic tale of true crime. But The Good Nurse succeeds in being about much more than Mr. Cullen's murderous kinks. The causes of his pathology are not interesting. But the eagerness of ambitious hospital administrators to cover up his misdeeds is revelatory. And the police investigation that brought him down is a thriller in every sense of that word.'

* New York Times *

Praise for The Good Nurse:

'The most terrifying book published this year. It is also one of the most thoughtful ... From a long series of conversations with Cullen, the detectives who solved the case and Amy, a nurse who once was Cullen's best friend and eventually got him to confess, among many other sources, Graeber has crafted a book that is a revelation. The Good Nurse is gripping, sad, suspenseful, rhythmic and beautifully documented (the endnotes to this book are impressive).'

* Kirkus Reviews *

Praise for The Good Nurse:

'Graeber doesn't pull punches ... A deeply unsettling addition to the true crime genre.'

* Publishers Weekly *

Praise for The Good Nurse:

'Engrossing ... hard-to-put-down ... On one level, The Good Nurse is an absorbing story of a serial killer operating within the walls of what most view as a trusted institution. On another, it's an intriguing detective story. And on another it's an indictment of the hospital industry.'

* The New Jersey Star-Ledger *

Praise for The Good Nurse:

'A remarkable new book ... gripping and brilliantly written.'

* Healthcare Risk Management *

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