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Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code (Eminent Lives) Paperback – 10 Jun 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (10 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000721331X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007213313
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 414,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Matt Ridley received his BA and D. Phil at Oxford researching the evolution of behaviour. He has been science editor, Washington correspondent and American editor of The Economist. He is the author of bestselling titles The Red Queen (1993), The Origins of Virtue (1996), Genome (1999) and Nature via Nurture (2003). His books have sold over half a million copies, been translated into 25 languages and been shortlisted for six literary prizes. In 2004 he won the National Academies Book Award from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine for Nature via Nurture. In 2007 Matt won the Davis Prize from the US History of Science Society for Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code. He is married to the neuroscientist Professor Anya Hurlbert.

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Review

‘In this excellent first biography of Francis Crick, who died in 2004, the suspense is terrific…authoritative…lucid…he captures Crick's audacity, brilliance and, not least, eloquence.’ Sunday Times

‘From the pages of this biography Crick emerges as a powerful, dominating figure who ruled seminars and parties with equal ease, and Ridley, an experienced science writer, with a neat turn of phrase and a proper appreciation of brevity can be satisfied he has done justice to his subject. His book has pace, concisenness and wit…the book is a delight.’ The Observer

'Ridley explains his discoveries with wonderful clarity.' Telegraph Review

Praise for Matt Ridley:

‘What a superb writer he is, and he seems to get better and better.' Richard Dawkins, author of ‘The Selfish Gene’

About the Author

Matt Ridley received his BA and D Phil at Oxford researching the evolution of behaviour. He has been science editor, Washington correspondent and American editor of The Economist. He has a regular column in the Daily Telegraph. He is also the author of ‘The Red Queen’ (1993) and ‘The Origins of Virtue’ (1996). Matt Ridley is the chairman of The International Centre for Life.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 17 Dec. 2006
Format: Hardcover
If anything typified Francis Crick's work style, it was his quest for cooperation. The "Watson-Crick" team has so dominated the literature of DNA research, that a view of Crick as an individual is a rare sight. Matt Ridley has admirably filled in that lack with this view of the Nobel Laureate's life. In a brief, but insightful, and superbly written account, the biographer has filled in many details of a scientist, a theoriser and, most significantly, a man of unquenchable curiosity.

If any one term can typify Crick's personality, it was his outgoing nature. One of the more famous sentences in science writing is Jim Watson's announcement that he'd never seen Crick in "a modest mood". Although the remark irritated Crick, it did summarise many aspects of his nature in both work and personal relationships. Crick was immensely curious about nearly everything, and once he'd tackled a problem stayed doggingly with it. He was dismissive of "fuzzy logic", demanding much from his associates and co-workers - and demanding it constantly. As Ridley frequently points out, while this may have irritated many, the results were rewarding. Ridley subtitles the book "The Discoverer of the Genetic Code" due to Crick's persistance, even "bootlegging" time to accomplish the joint find through a model Crick built. Crick later went on to work on the "purpose" of DNA and its relation to protein production, something fundamental to life.

Ridley traces Crick's early life and his career during WWII. He was a late arrival in academia, standing out among his fellows both in physical stature and age. He enjoyed the banter with professors and fellow students, although his braying laugh left some disaffected.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jason Mills VINE VOICE on 1 July 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a short biography, but also very concise. If one were to remove from it everything that was not directly relevant to giving a picture of Crick and his achievements, the thing would be no more than a paragraph shorter. It's a fact-packed, straight-to-the-point account, and is all the more interesting for that.

We learn of Crick's war work on mines, his early forarys into protein structures, the fateful partnership with Watson, his 'ringmaster' role in the later unravelling of the genetic code, his dalliance with embryology and his final years delving into neuroscience. We get to know him as garrulous, hard-working, blunt, irritating, endlessly curious, diligently assimilating, bursting with ideas, easily drawn into conflict but readily reconciling later. We see how throughout his career he relied on bouncing ideas off an equally bright foil: Watson, Brenner, Koch...

Whilst there is interest on every page, the middle section of the book, detailing the years spent bringing about the decoding of genetic triplets, is positively thrilling. No doubt there will be longer biographies of Crick, but this one reads like the distilled essence of a life. Great stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrew B on 31 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
A very good read and an important book. One thinks of Crick arriving late in his thirties, cracking the big one and entering the history books. How exciting to discover how far and deeply he personally developed the original idea, at the forefront, for decades. Sounds like a good bloke, too.
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By Not Titmarsh Again on 13 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found it hard to put this book down. As an unbiased account of Crick's rise to fame, it is informative and well-researched. As an insight into human weakness, it is fascinating. Science these days is even more competitive, but it is much harder for small groups to make an impact than in the 1950s and 1960s. I still find it difficult to view the establishment of the structure of DNA as anywhere close to being the 'secret of life', but it is interesting to recall how slow the world was to recognize Watson and Crick's Nature paper.
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