I first read The Double Helix in the 1970's and remembered that it read like a novel and that it started with a hike in the Alps. When I saw this annotated version I bought it immediately and read it again. The original text was as I remembered - lively, descriptive of a time and place (European academia in the 1950's) and also descriptive of how science is accomplished but without losing the reader in a haze of actual scientific complexity. Many people, then and now, have faulted Watson for his treatment of Rosalind Franklin in the book, but as sexist as his language rings in our ears now, if The Double Helix had been a novel, I doubt few would comment. For this is a book about people, whose motives and prejudices will never be as pure as we might wish - then it truly would be a boring book as others have found it in these reviews. And if you think the ethics and competitiveness are out of line in this book, try "And the Band Played On" by Randy Shilts about the HIV epidemic and the cutthroat scientists looking to take credit for the discovery of the virus. Nothing has changed. Because the characters (who just happen to be scientists) have egos and grant money and Nobel Prizes on the line.
The annotations in this edition of The Double Helix are often revealing, and the appendices, including one on the difficulties in getting the book published initially due primarily to fear of libel suits from the many people potentially offended by Watson's descriptions, are full-blooded and well worth reading on their own (with the exception of the exert from Watson's other book which discusses receiving his Nobel and his trip to Stockholm, the style of writing of which does not match that of The Double Helix).
The last lines of the last chapter of the book are among my favorite closing lines of any book, fiction or non: "But now I was alone, looking at the long-haired girls near St. Germain de Prés and knowing they were not for me. I was twenty-five and too old to be unusual." Does this sound like a dull book on science? If you have a curious mind, read this book and make your own judgments.