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Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA [Paperback]

James D. Watson
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug 2001
The classic personal account of Watson and Crick's groundbreaking discovery of the structure of DNA, now with an introduction by Sylvia Nasar, author of "A Beautiful Mind." 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.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Scribner (Aug 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743219171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743219174
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Review

Philip Morrison "Life" Lively, wholly brash, full of sharp and sudden opinion, often at the edge of scandal. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The story of the most significant biological breakthrough of the century - the discovery of the structure of DNA. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I found it an interesting book, but wasn't as impressed as most of the other reviewers. It's a small book and a quick read. I found it nice how Watson describes the characters of those involved. At times he willingly admits that he wasn't very knowledgeable about the subject in the beginning and that at first he was overshadowed by the genius of Crick. In other places in the book he is rather condescending towards those he considers less intelligent. He describes his conflicts with Rosalind Franklin, who did excellent work on X-ray crystallography. He criticises her a lot, but seems very willing to use her experimental results. She was probably wary of him because she suspected that he would use her results and take all the credit, which is exactly what happened. He tries to make up for his criticisms in the epilogue, but by then the damage is already done.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read! 27 Mar 2010
Format:Hardcover
Couldn't put this book down once I'd started so finished it in 2 days.
Still amazed at how they managed to work out the structure in such a haphazard way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Viewpoint of a non-scientist 31 July 2013
Format:Paperback
With the current emphasis on the significance of the DNA, it was interesting to read Double Helix. The book is well-written, easy to read, and has short chapters, which is psychologically a help for the non-scientists. It is, however, annoying, as Watson sometimes uses the first names and sometimes surnames, so the reader has to work out who he is referring to.

The account is not too scientific, yet the subject obviously means many technical terms are used. There are some diagrams, but as a non-scientist, I found that a diagram of the double helix, downloaded from the internet, was crucial in putting the technical terms in the right context. A diagram of the double helix at the beginning of the book would have been invaluable.

The author, James Watson, was one of the scientists involved in the discovery of the double helix and the story is therefore, his viewpoint. Apparently any readers have found the account biased, and that more credit should have been given to both Francis Crick and Rosalind Franklin

Apart from the current significance of the DNA in our lives, the book is a worthwhile read. An account of the success and frustrations of scientific research, personal jealousy and rivalry is normally not in the news when a major breakthrough is announced

The edition I read has since been updated and maybe some of the points mentioned above may no longer apply.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The double helix 1 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
What can I say but just simply superb. A truly honest story. No one involved with the story of the discovery of the DNA double helix could be offended. It's just a shame that Rosalind isn't here to enjoy this book and her contributions to scientific understanding. Darwin and Mendel would be most pleased.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 13 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an wonderful odissey into the scientific discover. Not allways are Nobel Prizes the rewrding of a scientific demand.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 18 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book when I was a teenager. My daughter was studying genetics recently and I remembered it-she's read it and agreed it's fabulous. The author admits his views of women are controversial but it's a cracking read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic 17 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in the emergence of modern ideas will find this a fascinating story even if the author is less than complimentary about others.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Double Helix - Breakthrough in 1953 14 Nov 2010
By Mr. D. K. Smith TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
In 1953 Francis Crick and James Watson made the most significant scientific breakthrough of the Twentieth Century - the discovery of the structure of DNA.

Their findings would not only revolutionise biochemistry but also provide a greater understanding of the very basis of life and how information is passed from one generation to the next.

The story is told by Watson in this brief but colourful memoir, originally published in 1968. Although the scientific discoveries are complex, this is not a dry, academic textbook. Watson writes with spiky humour and it's difficult not to get caught up in their frantic rush to be the first to find the correct answer, particularly when others are working on parallel research on both sides of the Atlantic.

At only 160 pages, The Double Helix never feels daunting for the non-academic and succeeds in portraying the human face of a great scientific discovery.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
As described and in plenty of time
Published 21 days ago by Alyson Jane Hill
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great first hand account of discovery of structure of DNA.
Published 24 days ago by P Ashton
2.0 out of 5 stars poorly written but quite interesting insight into academia
I think James Watson must have been a thoroughly obnoxious young man. There is an interesting incident at the beginning of the book when someone, the author knew, bumps into him on... Read more
Published 10 months ago by oto_jo
4.0 out of 5 stars Passionate
An example to all of us that shows that great discoveries are still available to multidisciplinary action by intellects with drive and vision.
Published 11 months ago by Mr. P. Sykes
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable read
technical in places, but the humour is worth the read. very enjoyable for science minded people or the mildly curious.
Published 12 months ago by Benjamin
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Such an interesting insight into the discovery of DNA and helped me greatly as background reading for my A-Levels! A must read!
Published 12 months ago by Lauren
5.0 out of 5 stars The Double Helix
Fascinating for the novice and the expert alike. A really useful book for anyone studying biology or science. A brilliant read.
Published 19 months ago by Linda Fox
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Change of reading
Not my usual adventure novel but a very enjoyable read right to the last page!
Will have to read more of this type of educational book.
Published 19 months ago by Frank Wood
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