Friday, January 8, 2016 |
Siddhartha Mukherjee has written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer. Weaving science, social history and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates and choices.
Throughout the narrative, the story of Mukherjee's own family - with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness - cuts like a bright, red line, reminding us of the many questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In superb prose and with an instinct for the dramatic scene, he describes the centuries of research and experimentation - from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Thomas Morgan to Crick, Watson and Rosa Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary 21st century innovators who mapped the human genome.