Siddhartha Mukherjee’s astonishing The Gene: An Intimate History provides fascinating history as well as the science behind the greatest scientific breakthrough in biology. I found the story of Mendel’s peas completely astonishing. Who would have guessed the extent of the impact of Darwin’s The Origin of the Species would have on science and social movements? But the story of the gene really gets moving when American biologist James Watson and English physicist Francis Crick discover the DNA double helix. Sequencing the human genome, learning how to manipulate genes, possible genetic cures for cancer and other diseases, and the prospect of illegal genetic abuse by terrorists and rogue nations are all part of story of The Gene. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s writing style is clear and concise. He explains complex ideas and procedures with jargon-free language. The Gene: An Intimate History is one of the best books on Science that I’ve ever read. Highly recommended! GRADE: A+
Prologue: Families 1
Part One: The “Missing Science of Heredity” 1865-1935 15
Part Two: “In the Sum of the Parts There Are Only the Parts” 1930-1970 87
Part Three: “The Dreams of Geneticists” 1970-2001 201
Part Four: “The Proper Study of Mankind Is Man” 1970-2005 253
Part Five: Through the Looking Glass 2001-2015 327
Part Six: PostGenome 2015– 415
Epilogue: Bheda Abheda 485
Acknowledgments 497
Glossary 499
Timeline 502
Notes 505
Selected Bibliography 551
Index 555

10 thoughts on “THE GENE: AN INTIMATE HISTORY By Siddhartha Mukherjee

  1. Deb

    In related news, keep an eye on part of the repeal-and-replace bill moving through Congress. Part of it gives employers the right to demand genetic testing from their employees and to make decisions about their health care accordingly. Yikes!

    1. george Post author

      Deb, genetic testing and sequencing one’s own DNA are becoming more affordable. I see ads on TV all the time to discover your “ancestry” based on a sample of your spit. These companies can tell you where your genes came from but are prevented from telling you if you have genes for Huntington’s disease or prostate cancer.

    1. george Post author

      Patti, Siddhartha Mukherjee is a gifted writer. He has the rare ability to make complicated concepts clear and intelligible. THE GENE is a great book!

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    Sounds really interesting but long. I remember being fascinated when I first learned about Mendel and the peas.

    Too bad all the science fictional elements in this will come, if they do, too late to help us.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, we may see some of the benefits of the gene-splicing technology if we can hang on another decade or so. Siddhartha Mukherjee has the rare ability to make difficult concepts understandable. THE GENE should win a lot of awards! It deserves them!

  3. wolfi

    Of course, one day the question of Eugenics will come up …

    Who will be allowed to have children?

    There are quite a few SF-novels which have touched on this – often in a dystopian setting.


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