DNA: The Secret of Life Hardcover – Import 1 Apr 2003

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Product Description Amazon.com Review What makes DNA different from hordes of competitors purporting to help readers understand genetics is that it is written by none other than James Watson of Watson and Crick fame. He and his co-author Andrew Berry have produced a clear and easygoing history of genetics from Mendel through genome sequencing. Watson offers readers a sense of immediacy a behind-the scenes familiarity with some of the most exciting developments in modern science. He gleefully reports on the research juggernaut that led to current obsessions with genetic engineering and cloning. Aided by profuse illustrations and photos Watson offers an enthusiastic account of how scientists figured out how DNA codes for the creation of proteins--the so-called "central dogma" of genetics. But as patents and corporations enter the picture Watson reveals his concern about the incursions of business into the hallowed halls of science. After 1975 DNA was no longer solely the concern of academics trying to understand the molecular underpinnings of life. The molecule moved beyond the cloisters of white-coated scientists into a very different world populated largely by men in silk ties and sharp suits. In later chapters Watson aims barbs at those who are concerned by genetic tinkering calling them "alarmists" who don't understand how the experiments work. It is in these arguments that Watson may lose favor with those whose notions of science were born after Silent Spring . Nevertheless DNA encompasses both sides of the political issues involved in genetics and Watson is an enthusiastic proponent of debate on the subject. The book accompanies a 5-part PBS series. --Therese Littleton From Booklist *Starred Review* Intended to enlighten those with "zero biological knowledge" this history of the genetics revolution coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of Watson and Francis Crick's coup in divining DNA's structure. A leader of the revolution as an administrator and public defender Watson throughout the work addresses objections leveled at molecular manipulation. It's a fair-minded approach that fruitfully combines with Watson's clarity about the biochemistry underlying for instance the dread of genetically modified crops; if by his conclusion a reader still adamantly opposes this or that technology at least the stance won't be in the face of ignorance. Alongside this mission of enlightenment Watson repeats a penchant for colorful characterization of rivals--perhaps the factor that made The Double Helix (1968) such a controversial classic. Previously caricatured Rosalind Franklin now comes off more generously Watson conceding that her work (vital to his and Crick's visualization of the double helix) justified a Nobel Prize had she not died tragically early. Nobel winners subsequently crowd Watson's narrative accorded the laurels for their milestones in deducing pathways from DNA replication to protein production; in isolating individual genes; and in the invention of DNA amplification that makes fingerprinting and genome mapping possible. Whatever one's feelings about it genetic engineering has rarely been as plainly explained as in this tremendously cogent tour d'horizon a capstone worthy of Watson's career as a public scientist. Gilbert Taylor Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved See all Product Description

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