Fifty years ago, James D. Watson, then just 24, helped
launch the greatest ongoing scientific quest of our time. Now, with unique
authority and sweeping vision, he gives us the first full account of the
genetic revolution—from Mendel’s garden to the double helix to the sequencing
of the human genome and beyond.
Watson’s lively, panoramic narrative begins with the
fanciful speculations of the ancients as to why “like begets like” before
skipping ahead to 1866, when an Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel first deduced
the basic laws of inheritance. But genetics as we recognize it today—with its
capacity, both thrilling and sobering, to manipulate the very essence of living
things—came into being only with the rise of molecular investigations
culminating in the breakthrough discovery of the structure of DNA, for which
Watson shared a Nobel prize in 1962. In the DNA molecule’s graceful curves was
the key to a whole new science.
Having shown that the secret of life is chemical, modern
genetics has set mankind off on a journey unimaginable just a few decades ago.
Watson provides the general reader with clear explanations of molecular
processes and emerging technologies. He shows us how DNA continues to alter our
understanding of human origins and our identities as groups and as individuals.
And with the insight of one who has remained close to every advance in research
since the double helix, he reveals how genetics has unleashed a wealth of
possibilities to alter the human condition—from genetically modified foods to
genetically modified babies—and transformed itself from a domain of pure
research into one of big business as well. It is a sometimes topsy-turvy world
full of great minds and great egos, driven by ambitions to improve the human condition
as well as to improve investment portfolios, a world vividly captured in these
Facing a future of choices and social and ethical
implications of which we dare not remain uninformed, we could have no better
guide than James Watson, who leads us with the same bravura storytelling that
made The Double Helix one of the most
successful books on science ever published. Infused with a scientist’s awe at
nature’s marvels and a humanist’s profound sympathies, DNA is destined to become the classic telling of the defining
scientific saga of our age. Download and start listening now!