Synopses & Reviews
The classic personal account of Watson and Crick’s groundbreaking discovery of the structure of DNA, now with an introduction by Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind
By identifying the structure of DNA, the molecule of life, Francis Crick and James Watson revolutionized biochemistry and won themselves a Nobel Prize. At the time, Watson was only twenty-four, a young scientist hungry to make his mark. His uncompromisingly honest account of the heady days of their thrilling sprint against other world-class researchers to solve one of science’s greatest mysteries gives a dazzlingly clear picture of a world of brilliant scientists with great gifts, very human ambitions, and bitter rivalries.
With humility unspoiled by false modesty, Watson relates his and Crick’s desperate efforts to beat Linus Pauling to the Holy Grail of life sciences, the identification of the basic building block of life. Never has a scientist been so truthful in capturing in words the flavor of his work.
"He has described admirably how it feels to have that frightening and beautiful experience of making a great scientific discovery."--Richard Feynman
"Perfectly fascinating and delightful...his engaging directness and awesome candor give an unusual insight into the creative processes of science."--Carl Kaysen
"Like nothing else in literature, it gives one the feel of how creative science really happens."--C. P. Snow
Robert K. Merton The New York Times Book Review A fascinating case history...Describes the events that led up to one of the great biological discoveries of our time.
Jacob Bronowski The Nation No one could miss the excitement in this story of a great and beautiful discovery....The book communicates the spirit of science as no formal account has ever done....the sense of the future, the high spirits, and the rivalry and the guesses right and wrong, the surge of imagination and the test of fact.
Peter B. Medewar The New York Review of Books An enormous success...a classic.
Andre Lwoff Scientific American The history of a scientific endeavor, a true detective story that leaves the reader breathless from beginning to end.
Philip Morrison Life Lively, wholly brash, full of sharp and sudden opinion, often at the edge of scandal.
About the Author
James D. Watson
was born in 1928 in Chicago. After graduation from the University of Chicago, he worked in genetics at Indiana University, receiving his Ph.D. in 1950. He spent a year at the University of Copenhagen, followed by two years at the Cavendish Laboratory of Cambridge University. There he met Francis Crick, and the collaboration resulted in their proposal in 1953 of a structure for DNA. After a two-year period at Cal Tech, he joined the faculty at Harvard where he remained as Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology until 1976. Since 1968, as director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, his research has centered on bacterial virus, molecular genetics, and the synthesis of proteins.
In 1962, together with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, Dr. Watson was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology. Prior to The Double Helix, he wrote The Molecular Biology of the Gene, which is now in a third edition.