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The Double Helix [Kindle Edition]

James Watson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The story of the most significant biological breakthrough of the century - the discovery of the structure of DNA.

'It is a strange model and embodies several unusual features. However, since DNA is an unusual substance, we are not hesitant in being bold'

By elucidating the structure of DNA, the molecule underlying all life, Francis Crick and James Watson revolutionised biochemistry. At the time, Watson was only 24. His uncompromisingly honest account of those heady days lifts the lid on the real world of great scientists, with their very human faults and foibles, their petty rivalries and driving ambition. Above all, he captures the extraordinary excitement of their desperate efforts to beat their rivals at King's College to the solution to one of the great enigmas of the life sciences.

Product Description


Philip Morrison "Life" Lively, wholly brash, full of sharp and sudden opinion, often at the edge of scandal.

Book Description

The story of the most significant biological breakthrough of the century - the discovery of the structure of DNA.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1925 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008UXLHN8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #143,369 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Viewpoint of a non-scientist 31 July 2013
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Jim's Novel 30 Dec. 2014
Because of all the hype surrounding this book I hesitated a long while before finally deciding to read it. Well, I can now say that I was pleasantly surprised. It is a remarkable book that must be appreciated on its own merits, despite the grave prejudices it may have caused to some individuals. Many people were deeply offended when they read how they, or others, had been portrayed by Watson. In fact very few were willing to endorse his personal views. Including his closest collaborators. It has been said that he displayed immaturity and bad taste.

Watson did not spare anyone, including himself, but he concentrated his attacks on one particular individual and that person happened to be the one who was holding the key that would help him and his partner Francis Crick to solve one of the the greatest mystery of Biology. Her name was Rosalind Franklin and unfortunately she was no longer around to defend herself. Normally she should have been one of the heroes of this story, but instead Watson portrayed her as the vilain. Like numerous other people I would have liked to hear her own version of the story. Many of the negative reviews actually come from readers who were incensed by Watson's treatment of Franklin. And the negative reactions had even started before the book was published. This offered Watson an opportunity to rectify his position, and indeed that's what he did. But instead of rewriting portions of the book where he made Franklin look like a second rate scientist and a despicable human being, he elected to make amend in an epilogue section that was added before going to press. So we can assume that many people who have read this book became furious with what the author was saying and probably gave up way before reaching that epilogue.
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2 of 2 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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2 of 2 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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By G.C.
Format:Unknown Binding
Note: the title of this listing has a misspelling, with "beibg" misspelled which should read "being".

James D. Watson's account of the discovery of the structure of DNA, "The Double Helix", is so well established as a classic of science writing that it needs no recommendation or comment from me as to whether you should read it. You should read it, keeping in mind that it is from his point of view and thus limited in that way. It remains a great read, where as Crick noted years later, it was impressive how much technical jargon Watson managed to work in without making the book too heavy. The portrait of Rosalind Franklin in this book remains controversial, but more recent books about Franklin since 1968 have added nuance to her image.

One detail to keep in mind is that if you find a true 1968 edition like this one, you should be aware that the controversial episode in Chapter 25, regarding the Medical Research Council (MRC) report on activities in Professor J.T. Randall's lab that Watson and Crick obtained via Max Perutz, is of the originally published text, where it was not clear that the report was not confidential, which was why Perutz shared it with Watson and Crick without thinking about it, or asking Randall for permission. Critics of the book seized on this incident to attack Watson on ethical grounds. This led to an exchange of letters in "Science" magazine, and in later editions of "The Double Helix", Watson revised the text in Chapter 25 to make clear that this MRC report was indeed not confidential.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very vivid illustration of a first-rate scientific discovery.
Published 9 days ago by Zhang Chao
5.0 out of 5 stars Watson's writing at it's best
The book to read if you want the inside story from James Watson. Obviiously biased to his pov but nevertheless an excellent and entertaining read.
Published 27 days ago by H & N
5.0 out of 5 stars Still as interesting as when I first read it as an 18 year old student...
A real insight into how frustrating real scientific investigation can be and the importance of searching for empirical evidence. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lady Penelope Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book but I thought it would
Awesome book but I thought it would. It will Help in my Studies. James is a bit of a Hero of mine.
Published 5 months ago by Amanda
5.0 out of 5 stars Grreaat book
Great book if you enjoy hearing about the scientific community. It's charming and very interesting.
Published 5 months ago by A. Schofield
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
As described and in plenty of time
Published 8 months ago by Alyson Jane Hill
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great first hand account of discovery of structure of DNA.
Published 8 months 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 17 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 18 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 19 months ago by Benjamin
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