Monday, August 15, 2016

The Gene

The Gene: An Intimate History
By Siddhartha Mukherjee
Scribner, 2016. 592 pgs. Nonfiction

Siddhartha Mukherjee's 2010 The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer won him the Pulitzer Prize thanks to his skill explaining science in an approachable, personal, and compassionate way.  In his new book, Mukherjee focuses his passion and wisdom on the astonishing story of genetics. 

The Gene begins with Mendel's work breeding peas.  His meticulous experiments provided science with a very basic understanding of hereditary patterns and helped make possible the discovery of DNA.  Over the next 200 years, other researchers, scientists,and doctors slowly grew to better understand the form and function of these mysterious and massive molecules. 

But beyond the science of the gene, Mukherjee truly shines when illuminating the social and cultural implications of each discovery.  The history of genetics is rife with issues and controversy and many of those are honestly and thoughtfully presented in this new work.  The Gene is a wonderful piece of science writing sure to educate and enlighten those who pick it up.


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