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Annotated and Illustrated Double Helix, The Hardcover – 6 Nov 2012

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER GROUP USA; annotated edition edition (6 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476715491
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476715490
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 3 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 367,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'No one can write what Watson has written...The Double Helix is one of the most successful descriptions of how science is actually done. By the rather stuffy academic standards of the time, it was a frank, cavalier description of the race for DNA... The Double Helix was not boring and it is still a great read...and remains a brilliant and, thankfully, still controversial book' --Irish Times

'Watson s 1968 memoir of his discovery of the DNA double helix with Francis Crick has become a classic. This updated edition will fascinate historians of science.' -- --Financial Times Summer Books Guide (28 June)

About the Author

James Watson studied zoology at the University of Chicago, subsequently moving to Europe to work in Copenhagen and Cambridge, where together with Francis Crick, he solved the structure of DNA, for which they received a share of the Nobel Prize in 1962. From 1961 he was Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Harvard. Steve Jones is Professor of Genetics and head of the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College, London. He is a television presenter and a prize-winning author and he has a regular science column in the DAILY TELEGRAPH.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have read the 1968 edition Double Helix Manu years ago
This new annotated edition adda many interesting details, especially concerning Franklin, and her important role in making perfect x-ray-images of the dna-crystals. Images, that made Watson convinced of a helical structure of dna
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very good book to get into the Nobel winner's mind! It gave me many valuable guide when I am confronted with the distraction of my research. I highly recommended this book to the young researchers.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great read for anyone with an interest in how new science actually gets done. Desperation and inspiration, not just cold logic.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Such a good read.
Both amusing and informative, giving an insight more into scientific processes, rivalries and politics than hard science.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 31 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Even Better Than the Original 18 Feb. 2013
By Bradley Baker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The new edition is a larger and deeper experience of scientific discovery compared to the original. I read the original while in graduate school in the 90's. I really enjoyed the new edition's annotations by the editors. The letters and excerpts from notebooks greatly add to the intrigue and drama of this amazing story. For instance, the inclusion of letters to Rosalind Franklin and Linus Pauling's thoughts on nucleic acid structure from his notebook just add many more layers to a wonderful story.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book about a time and a place and a group of people who happen to be scientists. 11 May 2013
By Rob V - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first read The Double Helix in the 1970's and remembered that it read like a novel and that it started with a hike in the Alps. When I saw this annotated version I bought it immediately and read it again. The original text was as I remembered - lively, descriptive of a time and place (European academia in the 1950's) and also descriptive of how science is accomplished but without losing the reader in a haze of actual scientific complexity. Many people, then and now, have faulted Watson for his treatment of Rosalind Franklin in the book, but as sexist as his language rings in our ears now, if The Double Helix had been a novel, I doubt few would comment. For this is a book about people, whose motives and prejudices will never be as pure as we might wish - then it truly would be a boring book as others have found it in these reviews. And if you think the ethics and competitiveness are out of line in this book, try "And the Band Played On" by Randy Shilts about the HIV epidemic and the cutthroat scientists looking to take credit for the discovery of the virus. Nothing has changed. Because the characters (who just happen to be scientists) have egos and grant money and Nobel Prizes on the line.

The annotations in this edition of The Double Helix are often revealing, and the appendices, including one on the difficulties in getting the book published initially due primarily to fear of libel suits from the many people potentially offended by Watson's descriptions, are full-blooded and well worth reading on their own (with the exception of the exert from Watson's other book which discusses receiving his Nobel and his trip to Stockholm, the style of writing of which does not match that of The Double Helix).

The last lines of the last chapter of the book are among my favorite closing lines of any book, fiction or non: "But now I was alone, looking at the long-haired girls near St. Germain de Prés and knowing they were not for me. I was twenty-five and too old to be unusual." Does this sound like a dull book on science? If you have a curious mind, read this book and make your own judgments.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost a novel on how science really works 19 May 2013
By J. Picó - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are several aspects I like of this book:
- it is a vivid account of a historically important scientific event that has eventually affected our lives. Unlike a book of history, this can be read almost as a novel, thus making it amenable for a broad public (no prior technical knowledge is required either).
- it clearly shows how science works. How the personal biases introduced by culture, character, etc. clearly affect what you study, and how you study it. It is striking seen how Franklin and Wilkinson despising of abstract modelling impeded them to get the right answer, in spite of the clear experimental advantage they had.
- finally, even if written by Watson, the figure of Crick is pervasive. Crick had an incredible capability for abstract thinking, and his figure is often shadowed by that of Watson.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading it again after 30 some years 18 April 2013
By Nobuo Monji - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was a foreign student from Japan and a Biochemistry undergraduate student, when I first read it. Had difficulty understanding many of the nuances involved in the story, But, after getting Ph.D. in Biochemistry and close to 40 years in R&D, I enjoyed tremendously re-reading the book. The old photos and correspondences helped me understand what I missed last time as well. Essential book to keep in my library.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blundering Happily Forward 19 April 2015
By Carl Drews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed reading this book! The Annotated and Illustrated version of The Double Helix includes photos, letters, sketches, and biographical information about the other actors in this human drama over the structure of DNA. Author James Watson narrates the intrepid scientific journey of discovery on which he and Francis Crick traveled, eventually leading to the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Maurice Wilkins.

By my reckoning Watson's two greatest blunders were his move from Copenhagen to Cambridge in September 1951 before getting permission from the NRC Merck Fellowship Board (p. 38-39 and Appendix 3), and the embarrassing presentation to the King's College group in December 1951 (where he mis-remembered the water content of DNA, p. 91-93). Despite these setbacks, Watson's exuberance, keen curiosity, resilience after failure, and sense of humor carried him forward to the published solution on 25 April 1953. The Double Helix should inspire graduate students everywhere when research gets tough.

Page 182 should at last refute the longstanding claim that Photo 51, taken by Rosalind Franklin, was used by Watson and Crick without her knowledge or permission. *Permission:* Page 182 contains dual statements by Ray Gosling and Maurice Wilkins of the fateful handover. They both agree that as Rosalind Franklin was hurriedly preparing to leave King's College for Birkbeck College (also in London) in January 1953, she directed Gosling to turn over Photo 51 to Wilkins as a "present" to use as he wished.

Accordingly, on January 30, Gosling met Wilkins in the corridor, handed him the crucial X-ray diffraction image, and assured the surprised recipient that he could do whatever he wanted with it. Shortly thereafter (early February) came the angry encounter between Rosy and Jim Watson, leading to Maurice showing Watson Photo 51 (Chapter 23). Yes, the transfer was irregular, and Franklin's lack of formality here has cast suspicion that lingers to this day. But Rosalind Franklin did indeed turn over her DNA research results to Maurice Wilkins with explicit permission to use as he judged best. That usage properly included sharing the photo with research collaborators Francis Crick and James Watson.

*Knowledge:* Well, you just read this book review without my knowledge, didn't you?

Book review by Carl Drews, author of Between Migdol and the Sea: Crossing the Red Sea with Faith and Science
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