by Daniel A. Pollen, 296 pp, $25, ISBN 0-19-506809-2, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 1993.
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Most readers of The Journal will not need to be reminded of the devastation wrought by Alzheimer's disease. This killer has as yet no effective therapy, and all of its victims eventually succumb, falling into "second childishness, and mere oblivion." Despite its apparent ubiquity both in time and place, the most common form of dementia was only described and reported in the early years of this century by the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer. Only in the last 20 years has there been evidence of widespread scientific interest in the problem.
A small number of those afflicted with Alzheimer's disease manifest the early-onset (fifth and sixth decade), genetically transmitted form of the disease. This book describes the story of one affected Jewish family whose ancestors left Eastern Europe for the New World in the great wave of immigration around the turn of the century.
The author, a neurologist, recounts how he
Clarfield AM. Hannah's Heirs: The Quest for the Genetic Origins of Alzheimer's Disease. JAMA. 1994;271(11):880-881. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510350092050