DNA: The Secret of Life
is released to coincide with the 50th anniversary one of the most momentous breakthroughs in the history of science. In 1953 at The Eagle pub in Cambridge, two jubilant students professed to have found "the secret of life". Hardy regulars may have raised half an eyebrow at such wild claims--perhaps putting it down to the drink talking--but, even today, it is hard to comprehend the significance of the discovery and the impact that it has had on our world.
As a book commemorating the unravelling of the structure of DNA, it merely gives the story so far--from the legendary lounge bar to a glittering future for genetics and germ-line gene therapy. It's no surprise that Watson--as the Granddaddy of DNA research--is fully behind all such efforts and scornful of its detractors. Both Watson and Crick are uncompromisingly loyal to the tenets of their religion. Crick famously quit Churchill College, Cambridge when they went ahead with plans for a new chapel, saying he saw "no reason to perpetuate mistakes from the past" and early on in the book Watson makes his position clear:
Does life have some magical, mystical essence
is there something divine at the heart of the cell that brings it to life? The double helix answered that question with a definitive No. DNA
works as a light, easy-to-read introduction to the field of genetics, but those with rudimentary knowledge and an interest in delving deeper--or those wanting a more even discussion of the ethical problems raised by gene therapy--may be disappointed. While the book won't become seminal in the way that The Double Helix
has, it is nevertheless useful and above all timely. And who wouldn't want to buy a book by the abrasive, ambitious and outspoken founding father? --Dan Green
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"An immediate classic" (E. O. Wilson)
"A terrific story of competitive bickering, intrigue, damaged reputations and unacknowledged contributions- It is also wonderfully written- an ideal primer" (Irish Times
"Marvellous and comprehensive" (Nature
"There are few better introductions than this" (New Scientist
"A wonderful book- [which] bears favourable comparison with Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man." (Sunday Telegraph