My Father's Brain: Life in the Shadow of Alzheimer's (Hardcover)
Named a best book of the year by The New Yorker | A Smithsonian top ten science book of 2023
“Blending the humor, compassion, and absorbing family drama of first-rate memoir with expert science writing, [Sandeep Jauhar] has composed a can’t-miss introduction to what has been called the Age of Alzheimer’s.” —Sanjay Gupta, author of Keep Sharp and World War C
A deeply affecting memoir of a father’s descent into dementia, and a revelatory inquiry into why the human brain degenerates with age and what we can do about it.
Almost six million Americans—about one in every ten people over the age of sixty-five—have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, and this number is projected to more than double by 2050. What is it like to live with and amid this increasingly prevalent condition, an affliction that some fear more than death? In My Father’s Brain, the distinguished physician and author Sandeep Jauhar sets his father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s alongside his own journey toward understanding this disease and how it might best be coped with, if not cured.
In an intimate memoir rich with humor and heartbreak, Jauhar relates how his immigrant father and extended family felt, quarreled, and found their way through the dissolution of a cherished life. Along the way, he lucidly exposes what happens in the brain as we age and our memory falters, and explores everything from ancient conceptions of the mind to the most cutting-edge neurological—and bioethical—research. Throughout, My Father’s Brain confronts the moral and psychological concerns that arise when family members must become caregivers, when children’s and parents’ roles reverse, and when we must accept unforeseen turns in our closest relationships—and in our understanding of what it is to have a self. The result is a work of essential insight into dementia, and into how scientists, caregivers, and all of us in an aging society are reckoning with the fallout.
About the Author
Sandeep Jauhar is the bestselling author of several acclaimed books on medical topics: Intern, Doctored, and Heart: A History, which was named a best book of 2018 by The Mail on Sunday, Science Friday, and the Los Angeles Public Library, and was a PBS NewsHour/New York Times book club pick; it was also a finalist for the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize. A practicing physician, Jauhar writes regularly for the opinion section of The New York Times. His TED Talk on the emotional heart was one of the ten most-watched TED Talks of 2019.
“[My Father’s Brain] excels in its clear scientific explanations of what happens in the brain as dementia progresses and in its authentic descriptions of the sheer hell of it for all concerned . . . deeply moving, especially when [Sandeep] Jauhar describes his own sense of confusion about how to do the right thing as his father declines.” —Bee Wilson, Financial Times
"A fascinating mixture of the medical and the personal . . . [Full of] transcendent moments." —Alexandra Jacobs, The New York Times
"[An] intimate medical memoir . . . [Jauhar's] honest writing makes this a painful but important read for anyone who has lost a friend or relative to Alzheimer’s." —Sophie McBain, The New Statesman
"[An] incisive memoir." —The New Yorker
"[My Father's Brain] has to be one of the best memoirs on illness by doctors . . . The force of the inevitability of life, and its end, as seen through his experience, is nothing short of enlightening, gutting and humbling." —Kinshuk Gupta, Mint
"In this propulsive memoir, [Jauhar] delivers an aching account of 'the hardest journey [he has] ever taken' as he witnessed his father, Prem’s, health, personality, and cognition get subsumed by Alzheimer’s . . . The author’s brutal honesty—about his father’s decline and his own inability to fully reckon with it—is expertly complemented by his medical rigor. Every family who’s ever faced an Alzheimer’s diagnosis will see themselves in this exceptional work." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Painful yet affecting . . . difficult to put down." —Kirkus Reviews
"With Heart: A History and other books, Sandeep Jauhar established himself as one of our most insightful, readable, and humane physician-authors. With My Father’s Brain, his work becomes still more essential. Blending the humor, compassion, and absorbing family drama of first-rate memoir with expert science writing, he has composed a can’t-miss introduction to what has been called The Age of Alzheimer’s." —Sanjay Gupta, author of Keep Sharp and World War C
“These pages will be a blessing to families dealing with Alzheimer’s. Jauhar’s prose is insightful, honest and moving about a condition that most of us will inevitably encounter in our lifetimes." —Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
"My Father's Brain is at once a deeply affecting memoir and a profoundly instructive primer about a malady that now affects many millions of people." —Amitav Ghosh, author of Flood of Fire and The Nutmeg's Curse
"My Father's Brain is honest and compelling, combining the professional and the personal in a story that is both gripping and desperately sad. Anyone who has loved and cared for someone with dementia will recognize their own creeping realization that something is wrong: the attempts to explain away bizarre behaviors, the moments of frustration and shame, the 'traitorous eye rolls' made by Jauhar as he tried to convey to strangers that his father 'was no longer himself and it was not my fault.' Sandeep Jauhar is unsparing in his analysis of his own response to his father's illness, and does not offer trite solutions, but he describes what happened—there are sharply observed scenes of family discord about the care of his father in his final days—and his honesty makes this a book that will give others what we sometimes need most: the knowledge that we are not alone." —Lucy Pollock, author of The Book About Getting Older
"From the unflinchingly honest perspective of a compassionate doctor and loving son, My Father's Brain offers an unprecedented portrait of the insidious ravages of dementia and the terrifying vicissitudes of chronic neurologic disease. It delivers a page-turning narrative as haunting as it is inspiring and as devastating as it is deeply moving. Essential reading for every child of a mother or father in the twilight of life." —Cody Keenan, former Chief Speechwriter for President Barack Obama and author of Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America