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Mind Thief

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Member Reviews

This is one of those rare books that is jam-packed with a lot of dense, technical information that is simultaneously well-presented and baffling. It's well-presented in that by the end of it, I felt like I, someone who has not previously understood the mechanisms theorized to be behind Alzheimer's at all (other than, "uh, brain plaque? I guess?"), now feel like I have as much of a grasp on the subject as, well, some of these drug companies. It's baffling in that after reading this book I feel like I have as much of a grasp on the subject as some of these drug companies.

I went into <i>Mind Thief</i> expecting an historical overview of the way in which Alzheimer's has impacted people and the way in which that has impacted medicine and society. I got that, packed in a humane, sympathetic, and even funny way, and so much more. A huge portion of this book is a run down of all the ways people - predominantly pharmaceutical companies - have tried (and, spoilers, failed) to slow or stop Alzheimer's in the brain. Don't let that turn you off, though. It's fascinating, especially if you're someone who is into the nitty-gritty mechanisms of action behind disease. Do, however, be prepared to get very angry at all the drug companies and their trials that have skipped steps, waste money, and, worse still, wasted time. I'm not saying that any of these drugs would have evolved into something truly groundbreaking or even useful by now, but if companies like Pfizer and Eli Lilly hadn't faffed about with their protocols and changing goal posts, we might at least have a better idea of why so many things failed. 

Han Yu takes a simultaneously human- and neuroscience-based look at Alzheimer's (not that those two things can really ever be separated), bringing humor and lightness to a deadly serious discussion without ever losing the sense of import or the accuracy of the science, and never forgetting the people that Alzheimer's affects.
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This is a very informative book on Alzheimer's.  It is one of the most in depth research based books on the subject that I have ever read.  It is a must read on the subject, if you have ever had a family member or friend that has had this terrible disease.  

You will come away with more knowledge than you ever thought possible, on Alzheimer's disease.  

Make sure when reading this book to understand that this disease can happen at all ages. 

Thank you Han Yu for taking the time and all the effort put forth in writing this wonderful book.  Much appreciated! 

D Price
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I've always been curious about Alzheimer's disease, since a few of my family members developed the late onset variation of the disease. This book does a great job of explaining how Alzheimer's disease was discovered, the different hypothesises for what causes it, and the different drugs that have been trialed in hopes of finding a preventative, cure, or even a way to slow the progress of the disease. The book does a great job of explaining the science to someone who doesn't have a background in medicine, but didn't seem to over-simplify or avoid complex sounding medical words like "beta-amyloid".

If you're looking for practical advice for reducing risk of Alzheimer's, this isn't the best book for that, but if you want to understand the science behind the different advice you have heard this does a great job of explaining the science.
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I haven't had too much exposure to individuals with dementia in my life, thankfully, but as time has passed, I am experiencing elderly relatives and neighbor's parents, all in their late 80's, early 90's, who are showing signs of mental deterioration. As we, and our society, are living longer, it seems nearly inevitable that many of us will develop some degree of it in time.  My experience, though limited, seems to be that keeping one's mind healthy through mind games, reading, etc...seems to keep one's mind functioning much better than those who don't use it as much. Use or lose it seems to be the rule. Healthy lifestyle might help keep you fit, but exercise your minds, too! Good book, with lots of info, sadly, still no cure in sight.
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Mind Thief: A Book Review
Bringing Clarity to the Confusion of Alzheimer’s Research

I lost my maternal grandmother to Alzheimers when I was young. (You might say she lost us first.)

In the decades since, I’ve tried to keep track developments in Alzheimer’s research. But that’s been kind of tough.
Aluminum is the cause? No, wait, that was an artifact of testing. A new drug? Years later, we’ve heard nothing more of it. There have been real breakthroughs in understanding the disease, but few substantive changes in its outlook.

So I was happy to find the book Mind Thief: The Story of Alzheimer’s by Han Yu.

This book explains where we are now and what all of those “breakthroughs” you’ve read about have ended up.

Han Yu teaches scientific and technical communication, and in this book she applies everything she knows to both understand and explain the state of Alzheimer’s research. She does a terrific job of explaining the different treatment approaches and how they theoretically should work. It’s an excellent example of science writing.

She also has harsh words for drug makers and researchers who have tried to “spin” the disappointing results of their studies. She writes, “I didn’t expert all the ambivalence, exaggeration, and even fraud in scholarly publications — publications that supposedly represent the integrity and rationality of modern science.”

In a truly ironic twist, you actually do want to forget much of what you have read about Alzheimer’s cures and treatments.

Here are a few of my take-aways from reading this book:

* While we have learned a lot, we still don’t really understand the causes of the disease — and that lack of understanding makes true progress harder.
* Things that seem promising in the laboratory almost always disappoint in human trials.

For now, keep eating well, exercising, sleeping well and challenging your mind — perhaps by reading great nonfiction books. (That last part was my own addition, not the author’s.)

If you know people afflicted by this disease (and don’t we all), and if you’ve been trying to follow developments from a distance, this book offers a fascinating tour into what’s been going on in Alzheimer’s research
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