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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who am I?
This excellent book by Daniel Davis is a well written and enjoyable account of the personalities and challenges behind the discovery of our most complex genetic system, our compatibility genes. The book explores the science that has cracked the clinical problem of tissue rejection following transplantation and leads us to the exciting new understanding of how our immune...
Published 10 months ago by Mark

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somehow the biographical information interferes with the flow of the ...
Somehow the biographical information interferes with the flow of the flow of the scientific discoveries so that one has to check back to recall what stage it is at.
Published 11 days ago by Liam Trundle


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, clear and elegantly written book on some crucial genes, 29 Jun 2014
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B. M. Clegg "Brian Clegg" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Compatibility Gene (Hardcover)
Some of the best popular science books tell us as much about the people as the science, and that is the approach taken by Daniel Davis. In exploring the ‘compatibility gene’ (or more accurately, the ‘compatibility genes’ – I don’t know why it’s singular in the title). He takes us on a voyage of discovery through the key steps to identifying the small group of genes that seem to contribute to making that individual more or less compatible with other people, whether on the level of transplants or sexual compatibility, taking in our growing understanding of the immune system along the way.

It probably helps that Davis is a practising scientist in the field – the director of research at the University of Manchester’s Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research and a visiting professor at Imperial College, London. Often, frankly, discovering the book is by a working scientist can mean turgid text or an inability to explain the science in a way the general reader can understand, but Davis writes fluently and often beautifully, as much in love with the history of his trade as the scientific breakthroughs he covers.

A good example of the way he brings a topic to life is the first subject to come under his spotlight, the Nobel Prize winning Peter Medawar and his colleagues (several of whom also get a good biographical introduction). I’ve read before about Medawar’s work on rejection and compatibility in transplants, but in Davis’ hands it’s almost as if you are talking to Medawar about his life and achievements, giving a real insight into the bumpy process of scientific discovery.

The book divides into three, looking at the scientific revolution in compatibility, the frontier of compatibility and the ‘overarching system’ which includes the near-notorious T-shirt sniffing research and the remarkable suggestion that a couple having the right mix of compatibility genes can enhance their ability to have children. All in all, there’s a good mix of the relatively familiar and the surprising new, all handled in Davis’ measured, likeable phrasing.

I only really have two small niggles (I’ve never written a review yet without any). One is that I think Davis is almost too close to the subject and, as a result, perhaps gives it more of a sense of importance than it deserves. Of course, from a medical viewpoint, this is important work, but the way he seems to put it up there with the work of Newton, Darwin and Einstein perhaps overinflates its importance. The other slight problem I have is that for me, there is rather too much biography, and not quite enough science. (It’s interesting that the lead endorsement in the press release is by Bill Bryson.) It sounds terrible, but I’m only really interested in the biographies of a handful of key scientists and that apart I’d rather just have a quick sketch and get into the science in a bit more depth – but I appreciate that this might be a very different opinion from that of many would be readers.

So don’t be put off by that textbook-like, low key cover – this is a really interesting read about a fascinating area of genetics and medicine. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even great for non scientist, 4 April 2014
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This review is from: The Compatibility Gene (Hardcover)
I bought this book initially for my daughter (AS level student) but since she does not have time to read it, I decided to give a go. I am not at all a scientist and I have to say that for once I am reading something readable for me. It is very interesting and it has opened my mind to a field which was unknown to me. It has even given me some elements to challenge my daughter on some of the points she mentioned in an essay on ageing...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really good read!, 17 Jan 2014
I am an old immunologist who lived through much of the era covered in Dan Davies excellent book. By necessity most of us have to specialize in parts of our subject but we maintain an interest in the general thrust of developments in other areas of the study. This is often through the literature and attendance at conferences. What a joy in my dotage to sit down by the fire and have the whole field reviewed in such a comprehensive and authoritative fashion. Memories of many of the big names in the field came flooding back with the impact their discoveries had on the community. Dan's revelation of aspects of the personalities and their interactions helped a lot. Many thanks to him for a really good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, 6 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Compatibility Gene (Hardcover)
Davis has written an excellent account of how the immune system is heavily linked to our genetics and how our understanding of it has developed much in the last century. Very good book - highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding who you are and where you come from, 2 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Compatibility Gene (Hardcover)
Very well written book. Academic and well researched however with a light touch which makes it understandable to a much wider readership.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fact makes better stories than fiction!, 30 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Compatibility Gene (Hardcover)
The Compatibility Gene is a fascinating story, brilliantly told by Prof Davis in a way that makes highly complex science accessible to anyone interested in how our immune systems work. Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book....no really......read it., 18 Sep 2013
Daniel Davies has written an account of how human beings fight off the array of illnesses and diseases that assault us on a daily basis. In doing so he also tells the story of the scientists who over many decades have pieced together the biology that he describes. Davies' enthusiasm for his subject is palpable. He writes with warmth, good humour and a genuine understanding of the human foibles that underlie the story of any research success. Davies also explains the impact that this branch of science already has on our lives, will have in the future, but also how commitment to a scientific challenge affects the lives of those who undertake it. This is a highly readable and authentic account written by a scientist who himself is active in this area of research. He understands it well enough to be able to simplify it for the non-specialist reader and communicates the experience of how researchers have struggled to understand the complex puzzles which underlie our defences against disease. Davies has a great story to tell and does so well.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somehow the biographical information interferes with the flow of the ..., 2 July 2014
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Somehow the biographical information interferes with the flow of the flow of the scientific discoveries so that one has to check back to recall what stage it is at.
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The Compatibility Gene
The Compatibility Gene by Daniel M Davis (Hardcover - 29 Aug 2013)
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