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Thursday, April 13, 2023

Review: Song of the Cell

 I read Song of the Cell hoping for more from the same author of The Emperor of All Maladies. The book was written during the pandemic, and it shows. The book hops from place to place, from the history of cells to an explanation of gestation, as well as an exploration of stem cells as well as immunology.

Taken on its own terms, the book is quite good as far as an introduction goes, and its theme that most modern medicine is actually cell engineering, from producing insulin to antibiotics to vaccination. Maybe I've just read too many immunology books during the pandemic, but the rest of the book doesn't seem to be as thorough or introduce too many new insights.

I wouldn't say the book was bad or a waste of time, but maybe there's been a flurry of books about immune systems and their interaction with viruses and so forth in recent years, so this book isn't as outstanding as it would be without that context. In addition, the fact that the book goes back and forth in time throughout its various parts doesn't do it any favors. It always feels like just as you're getting into cutting edge research, the book pulls you back in the past again!

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