Book reviews

Recommended books for cancer resources, information about cancer treatment options and cancer patient support. Cancer patients seeking links to cancer resources, information and support will find this site provides a general orientation designed to help you make your own choices and decisions concerning alternative cancer treatments or orthodox cancer treatments.

Apart from my books which books should you read?

This page is dedicated to book reviews. If you have your own comments on any of the books in the sections below please email me. Also, more than likely, you will have found your own book that I haven’t reviewed. If that’s the case, share the book with us. Email book reviews to me and I will post them on my blog: Contact me.

On orthodox treatments

Everyone’s Guide to Cancer Therapy

M Dollinger, E Rosenbaum, G Cable

This is the hardline orthodox treatment bible. No other book is better at giving you a blow by blow account of what the latest `standard treatments’ are and what the prognosis is. Two defects. The first is that it understates the whole question of pain – ie how much pain are you likely to suffer? Secondly, it has a vicious, unsupported attack on alternative therapies and the people who recommend them. This would go down better if they weren’t just ever so slightly dishonest. The dishonesty? There is no mention of free radicals in the entire book. This is a major – and very curious – omission. Why has this subject been avoided? Because free radicals exist, everyone knows about them, the problem is that the best way of dealing with them is with vitamin C and other anti-oxidants, all of which are anathema to the authors. So ignore the rabid sections.

Questioning Chemotherapy

Ralph Moss

This is a very useful, very critical analysis of the value of chemotherapy. A must read if you are considering chemotherapy.

Making The Right Choice

Richard A Evans, MD

Richard Evans believes in surgery but he believes that less is best. If I were thinking about surgery this is a book I would certainly want to read first. Given how little doctors tell patients about the processes of surgery, this book is a vital armament – especially in those countries where surgeons believe more is safer. There is a very detailed – extremely useful – exploration of the history of surgery. Detailed chapters explain what sort of conservative surgery (as opposed to radical surgery) is really necessary.

On unorthodox treatments (general)

Options, The Alternative Cancer Therapy Book

Richard Walters

This is a well written in-depth account of a number of alternative therapies. It is very readable and informative but it suffers from a number of defects. One, the information is not well organised so it’s not easy to find one’s way about. Another problem is that there is no placing of the subject within a global concept of cancer and its treatments. Third, it is written in a leisurely, almost literary style. I for one would have liked a little more urgency. On the whole however, an excellent resource.

Alternatives in Cancer Therapy

R Pelton, L Overholser

Another very useful survey of a wide number of alternative therapies. It also has a useful resources section. A good summary of options but again there is no placing these treatments within a global context of cancer. You have to be pre-sold on the idea of alternative medicine to benefit from this book. However, the information is made available in a direct, matter of fact manner which makes it a very useful resource.

Cancer Therapy: The Independent Consumer’s Guide

Ralph Moss

This is a large compendium of many useful supplements, drugs and so on along with detailed notes of scientific evidence for their effectiveness. Again no context, again hard to work out ordering system – a useful resource for the already pre-disposed.

Choices in Healing

Michael Lerner

I should love this book. It is solidly researched, comprehensive, balanced and contains a great deal of information that can’t be found elsewhere. Its great strength is its impartial discussion of many important issues. But I know why I don’t like it. It is written as if it were an MPhil thesis. It is so damn careful not to annoy anyone it is almost lifeless.

Cancerproof Your Body

Ross Horne

This is a fascinating compendium of quotes, arguments, and plain good sense. Did you know that the Navajo have a terrible diet but low cancer incidence? How so? No-one really knows. It may be the way the squat to defecate or their avoidance of chicken. For these and other facts that you won’t find elsewhere get this book and devour it. ((see letter Navaho Indians and Cancer) )

On unorthodox treatments (specific)

A Cancer Therapy

Max Gerson

A very detailed record of Dr Gerson’s therapy and his own history trying to promote it in post-war America where he suffered a great deal of vilification. However, many people today swear by his dietary methods. Anyone seeking to undertake his diet is advised not to do so alone without support. The Gerson Institute runs a centre in Mexico. Write to PO Box 430, Bonita, California 91908, USA Phone: 1-619-472-7450 . They can also be contacted on the internet (do a net search for `Gerson Institute’)

Curability of Tumours by Medicines

J Compton Burnett

This book, written nearly 100 years ago, is a delightfully opinionated record of a homoeopathic doctor’s battles, often successful, against cancer using only homoeopathic medicines.

Cross Currents: the Promise of Electromedicine; the perils of eletropollution

Robert O Becker

A fascinating book. On the question of cancer, Becker provides reasons why homeopathy, meditation and other energy medicine methods might work. He is against any use of electromagnetic field treatment for cancer – though he admits that there is one possible exception – the use of a strong DC negative electromagnetic field.

The Cancer Prevention Diet

Michio Kushi, Alex Jack

This is the macrobiotic blueprint. Whether or not you are convinced that the macrobiotic diet is the way to go – and they can certainly point their finger at some interesting successes – this book can still be read with interest. It is very readable and well-organised. It also has some fascinating sections on the medical support for dietary approaches.

The Science and Fine Art of Fasting

Herbert Shelton

First published in 1934, this is a fascinating and comprehensive account of fasting and its use as a therapy for almost anything you can think of. It is also utterly beguiling, filled as it is with anecdotes. Take the case of Henry Tanner who decided to commit suicide in the least traumatic way possible. He decided to starve himself to death. His desire to be done with life was due to the interminal suffering he suffered from endless ailments. This was in 1877 and standard opinion was that he should be dead in 10 days. 42 days later Tanner found himself feeling wonderful – and still alive. Doctors didn’t believe him even though he promptly went on a second fast to prove it. The doctors witnessed the feat – but still refused to believe it as it went against what they had been taught. Plus ca change…

Cancer and Vitamin C

Ewan Cameron, Linus Pauling

This is an important book and includes in the discussion more than simply the story of their use of vitamin C. This book now has a thoughtful opening section that evaluates surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Ewan Cameran was a Scottish cancer doctor and linus Pauling was a Nobel-winning bio-chemist. Highly recommended and should be read carefully.

Cancer as a Turning Point

Lawrence LeShan

This book, along with LeShan’s: You Can Fight For Your Life, argues the case for psychotherapy as an important part of any package of therapy for cancer. He is very readable and convincing.

The Cure for All Cancers

Hulda Regehr Clark

This is an eccentric book with a simple answer to the problem of cancer – it’s caused by parasites. Fortunately that means it’s easy to deal with – take a combination dose of wormwood, black walnut tincture and cloves plus one or two other things. Sound too simple? The problem is she makes out a good case for it. And according to my risk benefit analysis the risk is non-existent, the potential benefit life itself. So don’t listen to people who poo-poo this book.

Books by survivors

You Can Conquer Cancer

Ian Gawler

This is a wonderful, down to earth book full of rich insights. Ian Gawler had a highly aggressive bone cancer. He had his leg amputated but the cancer had already spread and it returned. The doctors said there was nothing more to be done. He went to the Philippines and saw healers there – who brought him back from the brink. He then went on a course of meditation and diet supported by positive thinking. This is a poor summary to a good book. P.S. Ian Gawler is still alive in 1998 and runs the Gawler Foundation, PO Box 77G, Yarra Junction 3797, Near Melbourne, Australia, tel: (61)-59-671-730

My Triumph Over Cancer

Beata Bishop

This is a very detailed record of Beata Bishop’s fight with an aggressive, life-threatening melanoma which she cured by going on the Gerson Therapy. I have no idea what her status is today but by the end of the book she was cancer free. Ian Gawler also swears by the Gerson diet. 2008 update: I had the good fortune to meet with Beata and to interview her.Click here to watch the interview

Double Vision: An East West Collaboration for Coping with Cancer

Alexandra Dunda Todd

This is the story of a brave mother and an even braver son as they grapple with the decision making process and in the end opt for everything. As far as we know it has worked. Some excellent commentary. The personal story is well set into the global context of cancer treatment options and the attitudes and politics .

A Cancer Battle Plan

Anne Frahm

This is a vigorous and assertive book about how Anne had done everything her doctors had advised – even having a bone marrow transplant. But in the end she was told the cancer was back again and she had little time left. She went straight to a nutritionist and five weeks later was declaring herself cured of cancer. This book is gutsy and informative. Sadly Anne Frahm died in early 1998 – about ten years afterwards.!!! She bought herself ten years of life in the shadow of imminent death. This is a must read. Although Anne is credited as the author, it was actually her husband who put the book together.

On the cancer industry and the war of ideas

The Cancer Industry

Ralph Moss

This is the book to read. This is the single best book on the background to what’s happening and why in the politics of medicine and research. Absolutely staggering, absolutely convincing. Incredible detail. A work of great scholarship. Ralph Moss is the dean of the alternative cancer movement and has great credibility among the orthodox scientific establishment. Visit his internet site (Note: People have given as evidence of a conspiracy the fact that Moss’s book The Cancer Syndrome is no longer in print.The Cancer Industry is the same book updated and retitled.)

Dirty Medicine

Martin J Walker

A highly readable, personalised account of the war against alternative medicine in Britain. Extremely readable, extremely worrying.

Racketeering in Medicine: The Suppression of Alternatives

James P Carter

Slightly hysterical but nevertheless worrying account of the fight against alternative medicine. What saves this book is the range and detail of the evidence he produces.

The Immortal Cell

Gerald Dermer

This is a very readable – and very critical – account of cancer research from the point of view of a hospital pathologist who tried to break into laboratory based cancer research and found himself side-lined because he didn’t obey the rules. Here is the definitive critique of ‘test-tube’ based research.

The Cancer Cure That Worked

Barry Lynes

Note the past tense of the title. This is the history of the work of an American inventor by the name of Royal Raymond Rife. He invented a machine that on its try out cured terminally ill cancer patients. It was so successful that it was squashed by the American Cancer Society. This book tells a story that is so fantastic that it will feed any urgings you have to paranoia. By the way there are Rife machines on the market. Some do follow the original design, there are other machines that don’t.. How can you tell the difference? I’m afraid I don’t know.

The Healing of Cancer

Barry Lynes

This is the follow up to The Cancer Cure That Worked. One of his opening quotations makes the point bluntly. ‘There is not one, but many cures for cancer available. But they are all being systematically suppressed.’ Robert C Atkins, MD. Notice that the speaker is himself a doctor who has had orthodox training. Many of the alternative side are disaffected doctors. Warning: this book will make you angry.

General medical/health-related books

Health at the Crossroads

Dean Black

For me this was the definitive analysis on the crucial differences between orthodox and alternative medicine – and why orthodox medicine has failed cancer patients. It is a slim volume but every chapter is a work of art – each one hammers a new nail into the coffin of orthodoxy – and yet the discussion is so measured, it’s beautiful.

Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide

380 doctors; compiled by the Burton-Goldberg Group

This is an excellent and encyclopaedic book on alternative medicine for all conditions including cancer. The same group have an equally encyclopaedic book specifically on cancer which I haven’t yet seen. Highly recommended.

What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You

Jane Heimlich

This book, written by the wife of the man who stopped us from choking over fish bones, is not specific to cancer, but it is a very readable account of how one can treat a range of ailments from heart disease to arthritis with alternative treatments.

What Doctors Don’t Tell You

Lynne McTaggart

A hard hitting critique of almost everything orthodox. If it has a defect it is that it seems to swing at everything in sight without any balancing of perspectives – nevertheless, it contains some interesting information.

Confessions of a Medical Heretic

Robert Mendelsohn

A highly readable, extremely persuasive, ultimately humane all out attack on modern medicine with its reliance on hospitals, technology and drugs. A must for anyone with an exaggerated respect for the authority of doctors.

Forbidden Science

Richard Milton

A fascinating, well-argued and highly readable account of the state of modern day scientific research. Anyone who thinks the major cancer research institutes of the world are on the brink of coming up with a cancer cure should read this book.

The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book

Shari Lieberman, Nancy Bruning

There are many different books on the market providing information about vitamin and mineral supplementation. Of all the books I looked at this was the one that I learned to trust. It provides sensible and straight forward discussion and easily accessible information on what to take, how much to take and what to be concerned about.


Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient

Norman Cousins

This is the altogether inspiring story of how Norman Cousins took over from the doctors when they seemed unable to do anything about the sudden inexplicable total health collapse that overtook him. Cousins acutely analysed the problem with hospitals and booked himself out. He discovered positive thinking, vitamin C and laughter. Beautifully written.

Meaning and Medicine

Larry Dossey

This is a meditation on why people get ill and how people interpret their illnesses – both for good and bad. Larry Dossey is a doctor who has gone beyond the mechanical. A very illuminating read.

How to Live Longer and Feel Better

Linus Pauling

In Vitamin C and Cancer, Pauling was writing as a careful scientist. In this book he is writing as an angry and impassioned man who also happens to be a scientist of extraordinary calibre. James Watson, one of the discoverers of the structure of DNA, put him up with Newton and Einstein. He gives chapter and verse on 101 things we should all know about living longer and feeling better – and taking lots of vitamin C will help get us there. The proof is in this book.

Love Medicine and Miracles

Bernie S Siegel, MD

Dr Siegel is Bernie to most of his patients. He is clearly a remarkable man and a remarkable doctor. I know a number of people who feel they owe a great deal to the books of Bernie Siegel. I think he has a lot of important messages. However, he is an orthodox doctor to the bone: he rates chemotherapy high above laetrile and enzymes and that is where he and I part company.

Living Beyond Limits

David Spiegel, MD

This book is about enhancing one’s life in the face of chronic illness. This is a relaxed but serious read that delivers its messages clearly and forcefully. It is based on years of research. This is the book to read if you are anxious and concerned to live life better.

Healing into Life and Death

Stephen Levine

When I wrote my book and when I set up this website I swore I would not include any books on dying – the equation of cancer and death is too strong. I want to focus on surviving. But this book slips under the radar. It is a serious and profound look at how patients can heal themselves in two ways: one allowing them to come back to life with a vengeance, the other allowing them to go on to the next destination with peace of mind. An important book.

Quantum Healing

Deepak Chopra

Pictures of Dr Chopra have him beaming with such intense energy that you wonder what he’s selling. Certainly his books are selling. Of all his books this is the one that comes closest to explaining how the mind-body connection works. It is so easy to read, very compelling and deeply humane. I really liked this book.

Remarkable Recovery

Caryle Hirshberg, Marc Ian Barasch

This is an important investigation into the fact that some people recover despite everything. What have they done? Why are they different? How common is this phenomenon? The authors suggest it is very much more common than generally assumed. Crammed full of personal stories of remarkable recovery, this is as good a support for your placebo response as any.

The Healing Path

Marc Ian Barasch

I found this book to be very interesting. Is cancer caused by psychological trauma? Does the ‘bodymind’ send us messages in dreams – can we know we will get cancer in the future? Barasch writes about these and other questions. I was very touched by his own story: he had a thyroid cancer removed. Also there are some very interesting ideas.

Fighting Spirit

Heather Goodare (ed.)

Margaret’s Comments: I think it is very important to share our experiences. This book contains the stories of a number of women who attended the Bristol Cancer Help Centre and who took part in a survey. This is the answer to the media scare where it was alleged that women undertaking unorthodox treatments were three times more likely to relaps than those taking orthodox treatments. Not many people know that the man who headed the survey was heavily criticised and subsequently committed suicide. This book is a sharing between women.

The Healing Brain

Robert Ornstein, David Sobel

This is a fascinating account by a neurobiologist and a doctor who specialises in preventive medicine. They explore the ways in which the brain has been shown to have an affect on the body – and how this information can be made use of by patients seeking to regain their health.

Other books

You Just Don’t Understand

Deborah Tannen

This is an important book if you are at all concerned to improve the quality of dialogue between you and the man/woman in your life. In doing so you may be able to reduce the level of unintended and unnecessary conflict that cancer may have brought into your daily life and which may be interfering with your relationship with your partner.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

John Gray

This is the how to, in-your-face, version of Deborah Tannen’s book – but it would be wouldn’t it, being written by a man! Often very annoying, indeed cloying, nevertheless it perhaps delivers some important messages which I have found worth keeping in mind. This is the book that taught me that men want to solve the problem while women want to explore the problem. That’s a difference that can – and does – cause endless angst and teeth gnashing.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck in your journey.

Jonathan Chamberlain

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