Synopses & Reviews
From New York Times
bestselling author Sam Kean comes more incredible stories of science, history, language, and music, as told by our own DNA.
In The Disappearing Spoon, bestselling author Sam Kean unlocked the mysteries of the periodic table. In The Violinist's Thumb, he explores the wonders of the magical building block of life: DNA.
There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes illuminate everything from JFK's bronze skin (it wasn't a tan) to Einstein's genius. They prove that Neanderthals and humans bred thousands of years more recently than any of us would feel comfortable thinking. They can even allow some people, because of the exceptional flexibility of their thumbs and fingers, to become truly singular violinists.
Kean's vibrant storytelling once again makes science entertaining, explaining human history and whimsy while showing how DNA will influence our species' future.
"As he did in his debut bestseller, The Disappearing Spoon, Sam Kean educates readers about a facet of science with wonderfully witty prose and enthralling anecdotes....Kean's thoughtful, humorous book is a joy to read." Publishers Weekly
"A science journalist with a flair for words...[Kean's] language is fluid and accessible, even for the science-challenged." Library Journal
"Kean is one of America's smartest and most charming science writers, and his new book could be perfect for summer readers who prefer some substance with their fun." Michael Schaub, National Public Radio
"The DNA molecule, Kean asserts, is the 'grand narrative of human existence' — and he boldly sets out to tell the tale, not only explaining genetics and its scientific history but linking Mendel's pea shoots to the evolution of early humans....He's crafted a lively read packed with unforgettable details." Sarah Zhang, Discover
"Sam Kean is the best science teacher you never had...a slew of intriguing tales, which Kean spins in light, witty prose while also placing them in a broader scientific context." Keith Staskiewicz, Entertainment Weekly
"Sam Kean has started to make a habit of taking scientific subjects that inhabit the outskirts of the popular imagination and reintroducing them with healthy doses of history and humanity....Anyone reading this fine book could be excused for jolting upright...with wide-eyed amazement." Jesse Singal, Boston Globe
"[Kean] writes with a humor and humanity that make him poised to become the next Brian Greene, maybe, or Oliver Sacks — explaining small corners of the universe one case study at a time." Monica Hesse, Washington Post
About the Author
Sam Kean is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Disappearing Spoon. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Mental Floss, Slate, and New Scientist, and has been featured on NPR's Radiolab and All Things Considered."