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Alzheimer’s disease, a haunting and harrowing ailment, is one of the world’s most common causes of death. Alzheimer’s lingers for years, with patients’ outward appearance unaffected while their cognitive functions fade away. Patients lose the ability to work and live independently, to remember and recognize. There is still no proven way to treat Alzheimer’s because its causes remain unknown.
Mind Thief is a comprehensive and engaging history of Alzheimer’s that demystifies efforts to understand the disease. Beginning with the discovery of “presenile dementia” in the early twentieth century, Han Yu examines over a century of research and controversy. She presents the leading hypotheses for what causes Alzheimer’s; discusses each hypothesis’s tangled origins, merits, and gaps; and details their successes and failures. Yu synthesizes a vast amount of medical literature, historical studies, and media interviews, telling the gripping stories of researchers’ struggles while situating science in its historical, social, and cultural contexts. Her chronicling of the trajectory of Alzheimer’s research deftly balances rich scientific detail with attention to the wider implications. In narrating the attempts to find a treatment, Yu also offers a critical account of research and drug development and a consideration of the philosophy of aging. Wide-ranging and accessible, Mind Thief is an important book for all readers interested in the challenge of Alzheimer’s.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Han Yu is a professor in the Department of English at Kansas State University, where she teaches technical communication, science writing, and engineering writing. She is the author of The Other Kind of Funnies: Comics in Technical Communication (2015) and Communicating Genetics: Visualizations and Representations (2017).
"Engagingly written and thoroughly researched, Mind Thief, pulls together the history, biology, and sociology of Alzheimer's disease. The best history of the illness I have read. "
--Peter V. Rabins, Richman Family Professor of Alzheimer Disease and Related Disorders, Emeritus, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine