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To Dance With The Devil Editorial Reviews

To Dance with the Devil book cover

It's hard to shape slippery, sophisticated medical issues into a page-turner, but Karen Stabiner does this in a book that ushers us through the realm of women, doctors, and researchers uncomfortably banded together to fight breast cancer. At its hub is the personable, controversial breast surgeon Dr. Susan Love (Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book). She unmercifully twits others in the field, proclaiming mammography's limits and labeling the current, clumsy approaches to "curing" cancer "slash, burn, and poison." Other spokes on the wheel are well-sketched patients and researchers chasing genetic culprits and better treatments. Dead-ends and triumphs are chronicled in a chilling account reminiscent of And the Band Played On.

New York Times Book Review

Could Karen Stabiner have had any idea, when she asked the celebrity breast surgeon Dr. Susan Love to let her watch the goings-on at the U.C.L.A. Breast Center, how much could happen in the world of breast cancer research and treatment in nine months? . . . Ms. Stabiner has taken full advantage of a situation that might have intimidated a lesser journalist. To Dance with the Devil is compelling, moving and very, very scary, a contrapuntal examination of the disease and of the women whose lives--whose identities--have been forever altered by it.

Los Angeles Times

An exhaustively researched, dogged epic of a war zone – the UCLA Breast Center.

Town & Country

Gripping. . . thrusts the reader into a remarkably intimate behind-the-scenes exploration of breast cancer-and the people suffering from it.  Stabiner presents a memorable cast of characters in a book, that, in many ways, reads like a novel-but whose compelling subject matter is all too real.

Philadelphia Inquirer

Stabiner weaves the stories of doctors, patients, researchers, advocates and lobbyists into a novel-like structure that puts a human face on breast cancer and the war being waged against it.

From New York Newsday

Compelling and informative. . . This book is for everyone who wants to make sense of the mystery, learn from what is being done, find out how to get involved or see that she is not alone.


A level-headed and valuable dispatch from the front on which the war against this disease is waged…Recalling And the Band Played On…To Dance with the Devil tells its story through a series of interlocking narratives…although the stories of some patients are harrowing, Stabiner’s account of Dr. Love’s near-visionary dedication is uplifting.


A provocative insider’s account of the many battles fought against breast cancer today.

The Chicago Tribune

An intensely thorough and poignant account of the battle against breast cancer. . . through gripping narratives and poignant portraits, the author presents the political, medical and emotional implications of this deadly disease.

San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle

Later generations will be grateful for this document; it will remind them that every great medical victory-be it cholera, polio or breast cancer-was accomplished through unspeakable human suffering and the dedication of a few remarkable individuals.

San Jose Mercury News

A detailed, insightful, poignant, sometimes chilling and ultimately hopeful report.  A must-read for women who have breast cancer and a valuable book for those who don’t.

Publishers Weekly

A compelling book that combines the elements of a medical detective story with political journalism.  (Stabiner’s) book is distinguished above all for its disturbing look at a field where cost-benefit analyses have become more important than human life, and for its exhilarating report on ways that ingenious scientists have overcome a short-sighted medical bureaucracy.

Library Journal

Like all technology, medicine is entangled in politics and power plays. Stabiner chronicles this political landscape from a journalist's perspective, focusing on the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women: breast cancer. Spending more than a year in behind-the-scenes research, she details "the Dance," the rivalries and alliances created by researchers, government officials, and politicians in dealing with breast cancer. Stabiner accuses "bastions of basic research" of practicing benign neglect in terms of women's health and praises the heroes and heroines of the breast cancer "battlefield," e.g., Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who maneuvered monies from the military budget into new breast cancer research funds. She concludes with a message of hope. Similar in scope to Randy Shilts's And the Band Played On, this fascinating account is highly recommended for all women's health collections.  - Rebecca Cress-Ingebo.
© 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.


The new war on breast cancer, Stabiner holds, arose from the work of UCLA surgeon Susan Love, an upwelling of thousands of women's support for more research, and a U.S. Army-administered program. Stabiner practically lived with Love and her patients for nine months, and she describes the persistence and growing political savvy that fueled Love and her battalions as well as how Love's lack of tact and steady eye on the main chance alienated some. Stabiner uses the stories of seven patients as the framework of her book. Five were at first misdiagnosed; two had more cancer than was originally thought. Stabiner skillfully weaves their medical histories together, which allows direct and indirect comparisons of the seven as human beings and of their various treatments. Stabiner also presents, very well, several of Love's colleagues--Bernard Fisher, Mary-Claire King, and David Heber prominently among them--and Love's relations with them to fill out this fascinating account of the forceful Love, her patients, and her not-always-happy supporting cast.

Kirkus Reviews

A big, sprawling story of the fighters in the war against breast cancer. Stabiner (Inventing Desire: Inside Chiat/Day, 1993, etc.), who has written for the New Yorker and other magazines, provides a revealing profile of the unconventional and headstrong breast surgeon Dr. Susan Love, whose UCLA Breast Centershe visited daily from January to September 1994. Stabiner also offers compelling glimpses into the lives of seven of Love's patients. The conflicts between Love, a dedicated and outspoken activist, and her bosses at UCLA, who fear she is not dealing with the money-losing center's real problems, are adeptly outlined.
© 1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.