Synopses & Reviews
THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post and Seattle Times Best Book of the Year
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies — a fascinating history of the gene and "a magisterial account of how human minds have laboriously, ingeniously picked apart what makes us tick" (Elle).
"Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee dazzled readers with his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Emperor of All Maladies in 2010. That achievement was evidently just a warm-up for his virtuoso performance in The Gene: An Intimate History, in which he braids science, history, and memoir into an epic with all the range and biblical thunder of Paradise Lost" (The New York Times). In this biography Mukherjee brings to life the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.
"Mukherjee expresses abstract intellectual ideas through emotional stories…[and] swaddles his medical rigor with rhapsodic tenderness, surprising vulnerability, and occasional flashes of pure poetry" (The Washington Post). Throughout, the story of Mukherjee’s own family — with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness — reminds us of the questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In riveting and dramatic prose, he describes the centuries of research and experimentation — from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Morgan to Crick, Watson and Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary twenty-first century innovators who mapped the human genome.
"A fascinating and often sobering history of how humans came to understand the roles of genes in making us who we are — and what our manipulation of those genes might mean for our future" (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), The Gene is the revelatory and magisterial history of a scientific idea coming to life, the most crucial science of our time, intimately explained by a master. "The Gene is a book we all should read" (USA TODAY).
"Mukherjee is an assured, polished wordsmith...who displays a penchant for the odd adroit aphorism and well-placed pun....A well-written, accessible, and entertaining account of one of the most important of all scientific revolutions, one that is destined to have a fundamental impact on the lives of generations to come. The Gene is an important guide to that future." Robin McKie, The Guardian
"[Mukherjee] nourishes his dry topics into engaging reading, expresses abstract intellectual ideas through emotional stories....[and] swaddles his medical rigor with rhapsodic tenderness, surprising vulnerability, and occasional flashes of pure poetry....With a marriage of architectural precision and luscious narrative, an eye for both the paradoxical detail and the unsettling irony, and a genius for locating the emotional truths buried in chemical abstractions, Mukherjee leaves you feeling as though you've just aced a college course for which you'd been afraid to register — and enjoyed every minute of it." Andrew Solomon, Washington Post
"Mukherjee’s visceral and thought-provoking descriptions...clearly show what he is capable of, both as a writer and as a thinker." Matthew Cobb, Nature
"Many of the same qualities that made The Emperor of All Maladies so pleasurable are in full bloom in The Gene. The book is compassionate, tautly synthesized, packed with unfamiliar details about familiar people." Jennifer Senior, The New York Times
"A magisterial account of how human minds have laboriously, ingeniously picked apart what makes us tick....[The Gene] will confirm [Mukherjee] as our era’s preeminent popular historian of medicine. The Gene boats an even more ambitious sweep of human endeavor than its predecessor....Mukherjee punctuates his encyclopedic investigations of collective and individual heritability, and our closing in on the genetic technologies that will transform how we will shape our own genome, with evocative personal anecdotes, deft literary allusions, wonderfully apt metaphors, and an irrepressible intellectual brio." Ben Dickinson, Elle
"Sobering, humbling, and extraordinarily rich reading from a wise and gifted writer who sees how far we have come — but how much farther far we have to go to understand our human nature and destiny." Kirkus (Starred Review)
"The Gene is a magnificent synthesis of the science of life, and forces all to confront the essence of that science as well as the ethical and philosophical challenges to our conception of what constitutes being human." Paul Berg, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
"This is perhaps the greatest detective story ever told — a millennia-long search, led by a thousand explorers, from Aristotle to Mendel to Francis Collins, for the question marks at the center of every living cell. Like The Emperor of All Maladies, The Gene is prodigious, sweeping, and ultimately transcendent. If you’re interested in what it means to be human, today and in the tomorrows to come, you must read this book." Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See
About the Author
Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, and The Laws of Medicine. He is the editor of Best Science Writing 2013. Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician and researcher. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Times, and Cell. He lives in New York with his wife and daughters