This is one of my favourite books. The reason: During my medical degree I had to study all the fundamental fields of biological sciences before they let me close to a patient and hospital. In all this time there was one thing that really bugged me and that I could not figure out. This was the simple question of why on earth monozygotic twins (identical twins) with the same genome at birth require immuno suppressive drugs following organ donation and transplantation between each other. In doctor science this should not be the case, the same genome means the same HLA immunological profile and therefore rejection should not be a problem, right! If you were really picky you could argue that viral infections could lead to different antigen presentation for a few months after transplantation but after this point the transplanted organ would effectively be the same as the recipient, right? Well not quite, as things often turn out in medicine and indeed in science generally, the clinical reality is different from the theory.
But here is the reason I love this book so much. Discovering this rather random fact out I decided to search for an answer, intrigued why my scientific understanding did not match observed medicine. So for a couple of years between the drinking, sports and music (aka the glorious university life) and after getting no answer from a couple of my lecturers I would occasionally open up the genetics books they had in the university and hospital libraries to look for an answer, but to no avail. Then having taken a year out to do a Management masters, by chance I stumbled across the application of complexity theory principles to management and leadership. This led me to read this book when my tutor recommended it as a way to oneself into this massive and confusing topic. To my complete surprise having enjoyed the rather challenging (for chap with no informatics / programming background) but rewarding first 2/3 of the book I discovered the answer to my silly but in my mind fascinating problem. The answer, jumping genes! Hurrah
So in summary and to contradict one of the other reviews, I found this book very interesting and informative. As somebody who has done both a medical degree with the according science as well as a social science masters I found this book both interesting, informative and directly relevant to both these very different fields. Yes, indeed some of it wasn't 100% new to me but despite this it still improved my understanding of the topics covered providing me with a new and interesting perspective on some old and fundamental fields of science. I'm sure there are very clever people out there who know all about most of the content of this book. But for the rest of us who don't live in dark offices at the end of very long corridors on a university campus and who want to learn about this field without doing a PHD in it I would suppose this is a great book to read!