Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
$7.96
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Good | Details
Sold by giggil
Condition: Used: Good
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 25, 2007


See all 11 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover, Deckle Edge
"Please retry"
$4.95 $0.01

Frequently Bought Together

Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science + Advice To A Young Scientist (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Series)
Buy the selected items together

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (September 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375412840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375412844
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #810,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

SignatureReviewed byCarl ZimmerIt's coming on 40 years now since James Watson published one of the classic works of popular science, The Double Helix. In that slender volume, Watson told how he and Francis Crick collaborated for two furious years to discover the structure of DNA. It is a great story splendidly told, but what truly set The Double Helix apart from most other books about scientific discoveries was Watson himself, less a narrator than a character: a wildly ambitious young man splitting his time between searching for the secret of life and trying to find a date, ready to spill the beans on friends and enemies alike.The Double Helix focused on only two years of a life that has now spanned nearly eight decades. After his Nobel Prize–winning work on DNA, Watson went on to become a towering figure in the new science of molecular biology, first at Harvard University and then as director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Watson offers a new look back in Avoid Boring People, which he presents as, of all things, a self-help book. At the end of each chapter, he reviews the lessons he learned during that phase of his life. This is a book for those on their way up, as well as for those on the top who do not want their leadership years to be an assemblage of opportunities gone astray, he writes.There's much that is entertaining and historically revealing, and Watson still knows how to deliver a delicious skewering. He refers to his opponents at Harvard who resisted his push into molecular biology as so many prima donnas whose meager accomplishments scarcely justified even the status of has-been. There's also much cause for head-scratching. In the 21st century, Watson's descriptions of my hopes of finding a suitable blonde are not even funny. He pads the book with too many details, like the $8.86 his lawyer billed him for toll calls. And while some of Watson's advice is wise (never be the brightest person in the room), some is obsolete. A scientific team of more than two is a crowded affair made sense in the 1950s, but today it's impractical for Watson's intellectual grandchildren, who must work together in squadrons on massive projects to analyze entire genomes. And when he offers lessons on how to spend your Nobel Prize money, you realize that Watson is actually offering lessons on being James Watson. And that unique job, we all know, is very much taken. 65 photos. (Sept. 27)Carl Zimmer's books include Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea and Soul Made Flesh. His next book, on E. coli and the meaning of life, will be published by Pantheon next spring.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In this memoir, Watson shows by example how to get to the top and stay there. Spanning his boyhood interest in birds to his resignation from Harvard University in 1976 to his leadership of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Watson's reminiscences encompass his claim to fame—cocredit for deducing DNA's structure in 1953––but focus on his ambition and his conduct of academic politics. He exhibits candor and indulges in gossip, qualities that contributed to the controversy surrounding his account of the DNA breakthrough (The Double Helix,1968) and that enliven this example of the academic memoir, not a genre renowned for excitement. Through arch character sketches, light self-deprecation, and a comic penchant for appraising the behavior and physique of the human female, Watson swings between his scientific aims and the resistance he perceived in Harvard's biology department to molecular genetics. Following each chapter, he appends "manners" derived from his experiences, which in the aggregate amount to making one's mark early and demanding commensurate perks thereafter. In angular and opinionated prose, Watson proves as engaging as ever. Taylor, Gilbert

Customer Reviews

It is really a lot of fun to read this book.
Joe Black
The advice at the end of the chapters are useful, but seem added as an afterthought, without being sufficiently explained in the preceding chapter.
Francsois
This autobiography is not written well, as it focuses too much on small details and fails to find focus.
Oceanus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on October 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
James Watson did not win the Nobel prize helping discover the double-helix structure of DNA by being stupid. Thus, it is no surprise that his "Avoid Boring People" is full of insightful and invaluable observations gained during his work. These "Remembered Lessons" are primarily aimed at those in academic/research endeavors; however, a large proportion apply to any area of focus. Examples follow:

College is for learning how to think. Learning "Why?" something occurred is much more important than a few facts (eg. the reasons for the rise and fall of the Roman Empire are more important than the birth date of Julius Caesar). It is better to simply know which books hold details you will need than to overload oneself with facts that never will be repeated. On the other hand, new ideas usually need new facts.

Students should choose courses that naturally interest them, and if one's grades are not largely a, they likely have not yet found their intellectual calling. One should narrow down their career objectives while still in college.

The academic world abounds in triviality. Choose a young thesis adviser - the older ones' expertise is most likely in fields that long ago had seen their better days, leaving devotees with diminished job expectations. Those breaking new ground inevitably threaten minds continuing in old ways. Extend yourself intellectually through courses that initially frighten - eg. math is necessary to pursue the frontiers of genetics. Never accept invitations to senior faculty homes unless you have reason to anticipate a very good meal or a fetching face.

Exercise exorcises intellectual blahs.
Read more ›
3 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
76 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Intelligent Signs in the Universe on September 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have read this book after being a fan of Francis Crick for years, and sure enough, James Watson is also cast from a similar mold... inquisitive, assuming nothing, fun, witty, and introspective. This would be a great read I would imagine for anyone sunk in the institution of academia, it reveals how those institutions really work. I applaud Watson personally for his very important work, and his relevant views, which are neither incendiary nor aggresive, but simply based on the facts of an observable universe. Which is right where we belong.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
96 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Robert G. Martin on December 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Jim, Jim, Jim....
You've written this story three times now. The first, "The Double Helix," is possibly the best history of science ever written. The second, "Genes, Girls, and Gamow: After the Double Helix," is undoubtedly the worst -- I had to wash my hands repeatedly from the offal emerging from each page. Now we have, "Avoid Boring People," a modest step up from the last. I'll leave it to the New York Times to decide whether or not this rendition of the same material is boring and to others to critique whether your use of "Manners" in the title of each chapter indicates you have the foggiest notion about etiquette. But the little science that appears in this book is shockingly bad in at least three instances.
First with regard to emphasis: Anyone not familiar with the history of Molecular Biology would conclude from this book that the second most important discovery of the 20th century (after your discovery of the structure of DNA) was the isolation of the lac repressor by Wally Gilbert. Nonsense. What about the breaking of the genetic code (1 sentence), the development of recombinant DNA technology (1 sentence) or even the development of DNA sequencing techniques for which Wally shared the Nobel Prize (not mentioned at all)? The repressor story has always been overblown in part because of Jacque Monod's incorrect insistence (that you initially bought into) that all regulation was via repressors and that activators didn't exist.
Your second mistake is the claim that Alfred Tissières failed to break the genetic code because his preparation of polyadenine had aggregated. Nonsense. PolyA is about as soluble as salt. The reason his experiment failed is the same reason Marshall, Heinrich and I failed.
Read more ›
8 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By therosen VINE VOICE on December 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
James Watson, the scientist most famous for discoverign and writing about the Double Helix, writes a broad autobiography, complete with advice to those following in his footsteps. The book is heaviest on the people he met in life, and lighter on science, which makes for entertaining reading by a broader audience. Those looking for details on the science discovered (as opposed to the author's aquaintances) are best advised to look elsewhere.

There are several interesting ironies in the book. At the end of each chapter is a list of "Manners" describing career advice, yet much of Honest Jim's behavior (chasing undergads, writing unflattering portaits of his colleagues in the Double Helix) is extremely unmannered. Additionally, some of the flourish he adds as head of the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory (expensive renovations on his home) are at odds with the financial mess he was brought in to fix.

The quality of an autobiography, though, shouldn't be judged on a character assessment of the writer. The book gives a non-technical view of the life of one of American's most reknowned scientists, and provides a much broader view than he provided in the Double Helix. The "Manners" do indeed provide advice for junior scientists. Perhaps most important, it isn't boring, and that's a trap hard to avoid in scientific autobiographies.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?