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James Watson

DNA: The secret of life

James Watson is famous as one of the partnership responsible for the discovery of the structure of DNA, and his book 'The Double Helix' telling the story of that discovery is an international bestseller. In 'DNA: The secret of life' he describes some of the applications that our knowledge of DNA has generated. Its become a vast subject area, and at times I found it difficult to decide how to approach the book - whether each chapter could be read alone or whether they combined into a single thread. However it's well written and maintains the readers interest through its nearly 500 pages. I would recommend it to anyone wanting a readable overview of the current state of genetics.

Many of the areas of modern genetics spawn controversies, and Watson doesn't shy away from giving his point of view on these subjects. This seems to be that we should make the maximum use of the new knowledge which we are gaining, for instance in the development of genetically modified foods and the screening of fetuses for genetic diseases. He also favours the 'nature' side of the 'nature vs nurture' question more than most people. His point of view might seem rather extreme to some people, but it's well argued and deserves to be read by those with opinions on both sides of the arguments.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews