Cover: The Dread Disease in PAPERBACK

The Dread Disease

Cancer and Modern American Culture

Product Details


$51.00 • £44.95 • €46.95

ISBN 9780674216266

Publication Date: 01/01/1989


374 pages



Add to Cart

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

[Cancer] has a special place in our medical history and social imagination. Patterson’s impressive achievement is to unearth that history, to bring out its cultural roots and manifestations, and to show why cancer was, and still remains, ‘the dread disease.’ It is a story worth knowing…and one well and richly told here.—Daniel Callahan, The Philadelphia Inquirer

This is an illuminating study of medical politics and ideology, promises and fears, developing some of the speculations of Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor, and highly suggestive for the AIDS generation… [Patterson] puts his finger upon one key feature of cancerphobia…the American urge to play out even the most secret of fears under the full glare of publicity.—Roy Porter, The Times Literary Supplement

Masterful, comprehensive, highly readable… The Dread Disease is all in one a historical, sociological, psychological and political analysis… An in-depth, fascinating account of a full spectrum of views on cancer reflected not only in the scientific literature, but also in novels, newspapers, films and the experiences of cancer victims… Fascinating reading.—Elizabeth Whelan, The Washington Times

Some of the most perceptive writing yet produced on America’s response to cancer… [A] fine, important book.—Daniel S. Greenberg, Nature

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Composite photograph showing (top) entrance to the Prudential Center in Boston and (bottom) an internal construction partition/wall printed with the words 'Opening Day 2023' and other decorative text

A New Chapter for Harvard Book Store

Starting in the summer of 2023, for the first time in almost thirty years, Harvard Book Store will have two locations: the flagship store in Harvard Square, and a large new store in the Prudential Center in Boston. For University Press Week we wanted to show some bookseller love, so we reached out to Rachel Cass, General Manager of the Harvard Book Store, to see what’s planned for their exciting new location