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The Century of the Gene Paperback – 2 Apr 2002

4.1 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (2 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674008251
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674008250
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,344,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"The Century of the Gene, by Evelyn Fox Keller, not only provides an insightful overview of the role of a gene in the creation of an organism but also traces the history of our perception of the gene's role in that creation... Keller provides several concise figures that allow a person with minimal knowledge of molecular biology to understand the basics of what a gene is and how it functions within the body. This book also captures past and present thought from critical scientists and philosophers who have contributed to our current understanding of molecular biology... [The] overall outlook provides a new understanding of the dynamics of gene regulation and predicts that a new era in which we can understand how to control our own evolution is approaching. From a research perspective, we hope to be able to use this knowledge to help correct medical disorders. However, from a moral and religious perspective, many new boundaries are being crossed. Read this book. You will challenge yourself in trying to figure out what the future will be.

Top-drawer science reading. -- Ray Olson "Booklist"

ÝIn¨ a lucid analysis of the mind-boggling advances in genetics and molecular biology in the twentieth century, Keller says it's time to change the way we think about the gene.

The notes... are detailed and useful... Her book is a thought-provoking review of the history and philosophy of genetics and genomics. -- Victor A. McKusick "Bulletin of the History of Medicine"

In this tight, clearly written survey, Keller does a wonderful job of explaining and demonstrating how our knowledge of genetics has accumulated...In her articulate and insightful...history of genetics and molecular biology, she suggests that most of our common assumptions about genes are either too simplistic or simply incorrect.

ÝThis¨ book opens up exciting possibilities of new ways of thinking about biological organization, which are not overshadowed by traditional language or by "historical baggage..."Evelyn Fox Keller has put down a marker in this important book. The time has come for us to take on a richer understanding of genetics and with it some new language and concepts. -- Sue Weldon "New Genetics and Society"

ÝKeller¨ is at the same time enthusiastic about the light that has been shed on the nature of life and critical of the oversimplifications that she feels have been made...She is well qualified to draw Ýher conclusions¨. She has an admirable grasp of recent research in molecular genetics...and has read widely in the history of genetics...She has also thought hard about both the history and the current state of the subject...We need Keller's voice. -- John Maynard Smith "New York Review of Books" (12/21/2000)

ÝKeller writes¨ with a peculiar, elegant blend of linguistic skill, historical reflection, conceptual analysis and synthetic outlook, and with the generously encompassing gesture of someone who participated in and followed the developments of molecular biology and genetics over several decades...Keller sees her book as a plea for scientific and political realism. Indeed it is. But it is more than just that. It engages historians, philosophers, scientists and the educated lay public alike in a discussion that self-consciously resists the temptation of polemics...about the conceptual and experimental developments in life sciences during the course of the twentieth century. -- Hans-Jorg Rheinberger "American Scientist" (01/01/2001)

The notes& #133; are detailed and useful& #133; Her book is a thought-provoking review of the history and philosophy of genetics and genomics.

[In] a lucid analysis of the mind-boggling advances in genetics and molecular biology in the twentieth century, Keller says it's time to change the way we think about the gene.


In a book that promises to change the way we think and talk about genes and genetic determinism, Evelyn Fox Keller, one of our most gifted historians and philosphers of science, provides a powerful, profound analysis of the achievements of genetics and molecular biology in the 20th century, the century of the gene. Not just a chronicle of biology's progress from gene to genome in 100 years, "The Century of the Gene" also calls attention to the surprising ways these advances challenge the familiar picture of the gene most of us still entertain. Keller shows us that the very successes that have stirred our imagination have also radically undermined the primacy of the gene - word and object - as the core explanatory concept of heredity and development. She argues that we need a new vocabulary that includes concepts such as robustness, fidelity and evolvability. But more than a new vocabulary, a new awareness is absolutely crucial: that understanding the components of a system (be they individual genes, proteins or even molecules) may tell us little about the interactions among these components.

With the Human Genome Project nearing it first and most publicized goal, biologists are coming to realize that they have reached not the end of biology but the beginning of a new era. Indeed, Keller predicts that in the new century we will witness another Cambrian era, this time in new forms of biological thought rather than in new forms of biological life.

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Most helpful customer reviews on 4.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews
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2.0 out of 5 starsNo figures in the Kindle edition
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N. Sankaran
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John C. Landon
5.0 out of 5 starsBeyond the Gene Myth
28 June 2001 - Published on
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James A. Shapiro
5.0 out of 5 starsInisghtful account of the history and conceptual future of genetics
31 December 2014 - Published on
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