Synopses & Reviews
Fifty years ago, James D. Watson, then just twenty four, helped launch the greatest ongoing scientific quest of our time. Now, with unique authority and sweeping vision, he gives us the first full account of the genetic revolution from Mendels garden to the double helix to the sequencing of the human genome and beyond in his new book DNA: The Secret of Life
Watsons lively, panoramic narrative begins with the fanciful speculations of the ancients as to why like begets like before skipping ahead to 1866, when an Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel first deduced the basic laws of inheritance. But genetics as we recognize it today with its capacity, both thrilling and sobering, to manipulate the very essence of living things came into being only with the rise of molecular investigations culminating in the breakthrough discovery of the structure of DNA, for which Watson shared a Nobel prize in 1962. In the DNA molecules graceful curves was the key to a whole new science.
Having shown that the secret of life is chemical, modern genetics has set mankind off on a journey unimaginable just a few decades ago. Watson provides the general reader with clear explanations of molecular processes and emerging technologies. He shows us how DNA continues to alter our understanding of human origins, and of our identities as groups and as individuals. And with the insight of one who has remained close to every advance in research since the double helix, he reveals how genetics has unleashed a wealth of possibilities to alter the human condition from genetically modified foods to genetically modified babies and transformed itself from a domain of pure research into one of big business as well. It is a sometimes topsy-turvy world full of great minds and great egos, driven by ambitions to improve the human condition as well as to improve investment portfolios, a world vividly captured in these pages.
Facing a future of choices and social and ethical implications of which we dare not remain uninformed, we could have no better guide than James Watson, who leads us with the same bravura storytelling that made The Double Helix one of the most successful books on science ever published. Infused with a scientists awe at natures marvels and a humanists profound sympathies, DNA is destined to become the classic telling of the defining scientific saga of our age.
This concise, full-color book and enclosed 35-minute DVD movie offer the best and most accessible introduction to what genes are and how they work. The movie, developed with the support of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, is being shown in many museums of natural history, and is ideal for classroom use. The book will appeal to a wide audience of general readers with an interest in science, as well as high-school and college students. This book and DVD movie for showing in museums, classrooms, and homes was written and developed by the same team behind a five-part television series on DNA, and a far lengthier book on DNA by James Watson with Andrew Berry, published in 2003 by Knopf. Andrew Berry is Associate Professor in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and Research Associate at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology.
For home or classroom, this entertaining 35-minute DVD movie and full-color book introduce and explain the discovery and function of DNA, the central code of all living things.
About the Author
James D. Watson was director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York from 1968 to 1993 and is now its president. He was the first director of the National Center for Human Genome Research of the National Institutes of Health from 1989 to 1992. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, he has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Science, and, with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1962.
Andrew Berry, with a Ph.D. in fruit fly genetics, is a research associate of Harvard Universitys Museum of Comparative Zoology. A writer and teacher, he is the editor of a collection of the writings of the Victorian biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, Infinite Tropics (Verso, 2002).
From the Hardcover edition.