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on 23 July 2014
This is the kind of book I read to learn basic things about a subject I do not know much about. When it is a scientific subject as with this book I often gain only partial understanding and generally address only those areas of interest to me. This book seems to me a respectable introductory work. I had long worried about human cloning but this book suggests that the practical difficulties along with the moral objections mean it is not going to move ahead in a real way in the foreseeable future. The book also dispels simplistic single gene to trait theories and provides a more complex understanding of how gene interactions operate. It is written in a clear and interesting way.
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on 1 June 2009
Well written in a quickly digestible form. Should appeal to those whose knowledge of genetics has not kept pace over the years and to lay people. Good value for money and merits its title.
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on 30 September 2013
Having unsuccessfully tried to read, many genetic books, where the author "makes no apology" for the Latin biological verbiage that obscures any understanding of the subject, I was taken aback by the simplicity and elegance of the language of this book!

This book answered many questions:
1: My brother has the same parental DNA as me , why then, are we not identical?

2: Why are only 20 proteins coded from the 64 combinations available from four bits?

3: Why SEX ? all that sweat....for what?

4: If Mendel's pea genes program for discrete colour or height, why are we not graded into discrete sets by height , or personality?

Great wee book!
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on 24 June 2009
If there's a gene for writing great popular science books, Mark Henderson must have it. Fans of his Times column will not be disappointed by this snappy and informative book. Henderson cuts through the pseudo-science surrounding genetics to deliver clear, sane and highly readable insights into what is today possibly the most cutting-edge field of scientific endeavour.
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on 3 July 2010
This is the 1st of the "50" series I've read. Since then I've bought many more. Its a great read, a book where everytime I'd read a chapter I'd think, just one more before bed! If you have any interest in this area, even casual, I'd highly recommend you read this book.
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on 13 March 2012
This book is written by a professional science reporter and is very well laid out with simple explanations, summaries of key ideas, adequate repetition of information for the layman and a useful glossary. In short I can't fault it as an introduction and perhaps more to the key ideas in the rapidly expanding field of genetics
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on 16 February 2012
The only reason I only give 4 stars here is that some of the technical explanations are done far better by other authors - he lost me occasionally and I don't think that should have happened (wry smiles all round) :)

Henderson shows a surprisingly deep understanding of all the issues in this fast-moving subject. He's particularly strong on how politics has intruded in on this life-science.

Because it involves people and societies, genetics has got embroiled in politics many a time. As we know, the original (pseudo-)science of eugenics had end-products in the policies of many governments round the world ranging from the illiberal to the catastrophic. We are not in danger of nazis seeking to misuse genetics in this day and age - but we are in trouble from the rather insidious thought-police of the left, who seem to want to dictate what the results of our science should be. Henderson is remarkably clear-headed about all this

It's hard to escape the impression that genetics is one of the most exciting fields in science at the moment, and this book is still a superb overview of the subject
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on 10 October 2013
Fifty topics on genetics are discussed in this excellent, highly readable work. Entries are grouped by them - molecular genetics, nature and nurture, the genome, some ethical stuff etc. - and each of the topics is set out on exactly four pages. You could skip sections here and there if you wanted to, and I doubt you'd have difficulty with later material. There's a glossary of jargon at the end if you do miss something.

The volume is presented in an attractive hardback cover with a nice picture of Dolly on the front.

My only possible reservation is that 50 Genetics Ideas... (part of a series?) was published in 2008, so may not be fully up-to-date in what is a very fast moving field.

Highly recommended.
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on 8 November 2009
This is an excellent book written for the layman about a difficult subject in terms that are understandable but not patronising. Some scientists and those in the medical profession would find it useful too!
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on 21 July 2012
The concept is simple - take 50 central ideas concerning genetics and describe each of them in a chapter of 4 pages, including a timeline, some quotes, sidebars, illustrations. The implementation in this book is excellent. If you're an interested member of the public, or a scientist whose genetics knowledge is a tad rusty, this book is for you. In simple language, the author covers everything from Darwin via the double helix, genomics, evo-devo and cloning to epigenetics and the RNA revolution.
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