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Annotated and Illustrated Double Helix, The [Hardcover]

James D. Watson , Alexander Gann
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Nov 2012
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.

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Annotated and Illustrated Double Helix, The + The Double Helix + Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster Group USA; annotated edition edition (6 Nov 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476715491
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476715490
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 21.3 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 189,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'No one can write what Watson has written...The Double Helix is one of the most successful descriptions of how science is actually done. By the rather stuffy academic standards of the time, it was a frank, cavalier description of the race for DNA... The Double Helix was not boring and it is still a great read...and remains a brilliant and, thankfully, still controversial book' --Irish Times

'Watson s 1968 memoir of his discovery of the DNA double helix with Francis Crick has become a classic. This updated edition will fascinate historians of science.' -- --Financial Times Summer Books Guide (28 June)

About the Author

James Watson studied zoology at the University of Chicago, subsequently moving to Europe to work in Copenhagen and Cambridge, where together with Francis Crick, he solved the structure of DNA, for which they received a share of the Nobel Prize in 1962. From 1961 he was Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Harvard. Steve Jones is Professor of Genetics and head of the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College, London. He is a television presenter and a prize-winning author and he has a regular science column in the DAILY TELEGRAPH.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book 21 Jan 2013
I have read the 1968 edition Double Helix Manu years ago
This new annotated edition adda many interesting details, especially concerning Franklin, and her important role in making perfect x-ray-images of the dna-crystals. Images, that made Watson convinced of a helical structure of dna
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Very good book to get into the Nobel winner's mind! It gave me many valuable guide when I am confronted with the distraction of my research. I highly recommended this book to the young researchers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Double Helix 17 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a great read for anyone with an interest in how new science actually gets done. Desperation and inspiration, not just cold logic.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Even Better Than the Original 18 Feb 2013
By Bradley Baker - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The new edition is a larger and deeper experience of scientific discovery compared to the original. I read the original while in graduate school in the 90's. I really enjoyed the new edition's annotations by the editors. The letters and excerpts from notebooks greatly add to the intrigue and drama of this amazing story. For instance, the inclusion of letters to Rosalind Franklin and Linus Pauling's thoughts on nucleic acid structure from his notebook just add many more layers to a wonderful story.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book about a time and a place and a group of people who happen to be scientists. 11 May 2013
By R. Voight - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost a novel on how science really works 19 May 2013
By J. Picó - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are several aspects I like of this book:
- it is a vivid account of a historically important scientific event that has eventually affected our lives. Unlike a book of history, this can be read almost as a novel, thus making it amenable for a broad public (no prior technical knowledge is required either).
- it clearly shows how science works. How the personal biases introduced by culture, character, etc. clearly affect what you study, and how you study it. It is striking seen how Franklin and Wilkinson despising of abstract modelling impeded them to get the right answer, in spite of the clear experimental advantage they had.
- finally, even if written by Watson, the figure of Crick is pervasive. Crick had an incredible capability for abstract thinking, and his figure is often shadowed by that of Watson.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading it again after 30 some years 18 April 2013
By Nobuo Monji - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was a foreign student from Japan and a Biochemistry undergraduate student, when I first read it. Had difficulty understanding many of the nuances involved in the story, But, after getting Ph.D. in Biochemistry and close to 40 years in R&D, I enjoyed tremendously re-reading the book. The old photos and correspondences helped me understand what I missed last time as well. Essential book to keep in my library.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! 10 April 2014
By Irwin Kuntz - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great story still full of the spirit of discovery - made even more interesting by the letters and photos
the annotators have acquired.
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