More than four million Americans develop Alzheimer's every year, just as Charles Pierce's father did-horrifically and genetically-and in Hard to Forget, Pierce takes us deep into the country of this disease, to explore how it affects both the body and a family. When his father is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, the author goes on a quest to discover everything he can about the disease. He discusses here Dr. Alois Alzheimer's work early in the twentieth century, then shows how Watson and Crick's announcement of the double-helix structure of DNA opened up the field of Alzheimer's research and led to discoveries by the "genome cowboys"-Dr. Allen Roses, Dr. Peter Hyslop, and others-of the genetic components of the disease. At the heart of this book, too, is the powerful, emotional story of how the Pierce family coped with Alzheimer's and with the threat that the author-and his children-might also inherit it.
Elegant and richly informative, Hard to Forget is a unique and provocative book.
From The New York Times Book Review
The book's strength lies in Pierce's skillful explanation of the scientific history of Alzheimer's...For Pierce coming to terms with such tragedy meant more than grieving. It meant confronting his own genetic legacy. Pierce, a writer at large for Esquire, immersed himself in the science of genetics, the engrossing exposition of which makes up a substantial part of the book. These two narrative strains, one objectively scientific, one deeply personal, intertwine to create his story's double structure, which in a sense reflects the dual nature of the disease itself.
From The Washington Post
Pierce adopts the metaphorical style of an alternative newspaper. Often he interrupts the narrative to introduce a seemingly remote event that reveals an unexpected chain of causality....reinforc[ing] a nightmare quality that, as this poignant memoir agonizingly shows, is exactly the form that experience with Alzheimer's takes.