Cancer is usually associated with death. For the cancer specialist, however, cancer is more about life: not just patients’ lives; the cancer itself often lives the life of Riley. If it has a life, then, it is entitled to a biography. Here, Siddhartha Mukherjee, an obviously compassionate oncologist, provides that biography. The basis of any biography is the story. In this book, there are four interwoven stories; that of people with cancer, full of fear, but increasingly often, surviving; that of scientists and doctors: stories of genius, perseverance, integrity, serendipity but also arrogance and fraud; the statistical story which tells us that the global burden of cancer doubled (thank you tobacco) in the last 25 years, 13 million people will be diagnosed this year but five million will survive and cancer specific death rates are falling by one per cent per year; and finally, the story of cancer itself, a major health burden after public hygiene measures eradicated infectious causes of death.