The Song of the Cell: Book summary and reviews of The Song of the Cell by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Song of the Cell

An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human

by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Song of the Cell by Siddhartha Mukherjee X
The Song of the Cell by Siddhartha Mukherjee
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Book Summary

From the author of The Emperor of All Maladies, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and The Gene, a #1 New York Times bestseller, comes his most spectacular book yet, an exploration of medicine and our radical new ability to manipulate cells. Rich with Mukherjee's revelatory and exhilarating stories of scientists, doctors, and the patients whose lives may be saved by their work, The Song of the Cell is the third book in this extraordinary writer's exploration of what it means to be human.

Mukherjee begins this magnificent story in the late 1600s, when a distinguished English polymath, Robert Hooke, and an eccentric Dutch cloth-merchant, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek looked down their handmade microscopes. What they saw introduced a radical concept that swept through biology and medicine, touching virtually every aspect of the two sciences, and altering both forever. It was the fact that complex living organisms are assemblages of tiny, self-contained, self-regulating units. Our organs, our physiology, our selves—hearts, blood, brains—are built from these compartments. Hooke christened them "cells."

The discovery of cells—and the reframing of the human body as a cellular ecosystem—announced the birth of a new kind of medicine based on the therapeutic manipulations of cells. A hip fracture, a cardiac arrest, Alzheimer's dementia, AIDS, pneumonia, lung cancer, kidney failure, arthritis, COVID pneumonia—all could be reconceived as the results of cells, or systems of cells, functioning abnormally. And all could be perceived as loci of cellular therapies.

In The Song of the Cell, Mukherjee tells the story of how scientists discovered cells, began to understand them, and are now using that knowledge to create new humans. He seduces you with writing so vivid, lucid, and suspenseful that complex science becomes thrilling. Told in six parts, laced with Mukherjee's own experience as a researcher, a doctor, and a prolific reader, The Song of the Cell is both panoramic and intimate—a masterpiece.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"An extraordinarily gifted storyteller... The author's ideas about the near future of medicine (one in which medicine will "perhaps even create synthetic versions of cells, and parts of humans") are both convincing and inspiring, and woven throughout his narrative are accessible explanations of cell biology and immunology. This is another winner from Mukherjee." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Mukherjee, a physician, professor of medicine, and Pulitzer Prize–winning author, has a knack for explaining difficult ideas in terms that are both straightforward and interesting...A luminous journey into cellular biology...Another outstanding addition to the author's oeuvre, which we hope will continue to grow for years to come." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Mukherjee's coverage of early efforts at bone marrow transplantation is heart-tugging. A discussion of stem cells is first-rate...In all, this is a distinctive ode to cells—their structure and function, commonalities, diversities, interconnectedness, and limitless possibilities—infused with a sense of wonder and humanity." - Booklist

"Part mystery, part adventure story, The Song of the Cell is an irresistible foray into the frontiers of medical science. Animated by Siddhartha Mukherjee's lively, lucid prose, this volume is a reminder of the power of human ingenuity, and likely to leave readers both enlightened and hopeful." - Jennifer Egan, author of the Pulitzer Prize winner A Visit from the Goon Squad and the New York Times bestseller The Candy House

"In Siddhartha Mukherjee's exciting and scholarly new book, he is a portraitist of cells, illuminating their structure and function, how they know to become part of organs like the heart or a brain, how they reproduce, how they become corrupt causing disease, and how modern medicine has learned to understand and manipulate them to cure and to heal. Deeply researched, The Song of the Cell is an extraordinary journey through the history of discovery to the most innovative cellular medicine practiced today and the promise of what lies ahead." - Paul Nurse, Nobel Laureate Physiology or Medicine 2001, Director of the Francis Crick Institute, London

This information about The Song of the Cell was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Siddhartha Mukherjee Author Biography

Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer and The Gene: An Intimate History, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, and The Laws of Medicine. He is the editor of Best Science Writing 2013.

Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician and researcher. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Times, and Cell. He lives in New York with his wife and daughters.

Name Pronunciation
Siddhartha Mukherjee: sih-DART-uh MOO-ker-jee

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