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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A skillful and entertaining story of development, 1 Jun 2000
By 
Mark Burgess (Norway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Art of Genes: How Organisms Make Themselves (Paperback)
I was very happy to stumble upon this book on the development of organisms. In this popularization of the science of development Enrico Coen proves himself equal to the best science popularizers. I was delighted to find a book which empashizes that genes are not the only source of biological information which are responsible for development. As a physicist, and computer scientist it has always been clear to me that genes cannot explain organisms by themselves. In addition to the protein recipie book that is DNA there must be a mechanism for use the ingredients. It is not just the ingredients but the amounts, their use or omission, the geometry of the cellular growth, mixture or separation, dominance, timing and irreversibility...all of the familiar features of complex systems, and indeed the entire history of the evolution which is summarized in the structure and composition of the cells and their protein consituents.
Coens book is successful in weaving the artistic analogy into a truthfully coherent and entertaining description of what is known about development. Initially I was worried by the title of the book, that the analogy would go too far, but I believe that the discerning reader will find the analogy only entertaining and sometimes helpful in providing a pedagogical reference frame.
The author is to be congratulated on producing a timely and beautiful book on a conceptually difficult topic.
Mark Burgess Associate professor, Oslo University College
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly good, 25 July 1999
By A Customer
This book is quite simply the best I have ever seen in its field. First, it is amazingly comprehensibly written, using straightforward metaphors to help the reader follow the course of the argument. Second, the argument itself is well laid out so that everyone from the beginner to the expert is clear exactly what is being demonstrated at any one point. Third, all unnecessary jargon has been abandoned, _without_ sacrificing any sophistication. Fourth, there seem to be so few authors who are willing to accept that genetic _and_ environmental factors play an equally powerful role in the delicate co-evolutionary interplay which is the story of the development of an organism. Enrico Coen is one of these few - thank you _very_ much, Mr. Coen!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars scientific impressionism, 30 Dec 2008
By 
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A decent read for anyone interested in the science of how animals and plants unfold from a fertilised cell according to the choreographed activity of genes, and biochemical signals.
Unfortunately - for me - the artistic metaphor was forced too far, too often, to the exclusion of the science. The author refers to hidden colours, and scents. What is wrong with a more correct scientific terminology? The use of a single colour to represent a certain cellular territory within a developing embryo etc also seems to risk suggesting an over-simplification. Surely it isn't just one gene / master protein / colour that is active.Coen was at pains to flog the artistic analogy for all it was worth even when it was not really worth it. To be honest my heart sank when forced to encounter another lengthy tract about Velasquez or Picasso or Leonardo or the artists interaction with the canvas.The problem with the whole analogy is the presence of the artist i.e. there is a conscious intelligence guiding the creative process which does not occur with the development of an organism from a fertilised egg cell.
However this is a fascinating subject and - on balance - a useful contribution.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional read, 13 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Art of Genes: How Organisms Make Themselves (Paperback)
I have a bad habit of starting popular science books and not getting through to the last page. I had no problem with this book - it makes a complex topic highly accessible. I'm looking forward to reading more books on Bio development.
Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tour De Force, 22 July 2008
By 
Dr. JP Marney "Japes" (Glasgow, Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I am taken aback to say the least, to find that this book is out of print. I read it while touring India in 2000 and thought it one of the best popular science books I had read. Eventually my battered travel-stained copy fell apart, so currently seeking another.

Enrico - if you ever read this, well done. You made a big impression on me. Easily up there with the likes of Dawkins.
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The Art of Genes: How Organisms Make Themselves
The Art of Genes: How Organisms Make Themselves by Enrico Coen (Paperback - 1 Jun 2000)
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