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The Cartoon Guide to Genetics (Updated Edition) Updated Edition

74 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0062730992
ISBN-10: 0062730991
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Having trouble deciphering your genetic code? Do dominant genes make you feel recessive? Let reigning nonfiction cartoonist Larry Gonick and microbiologist Mark Wheelis ease your way through Mendelian genetics, molecular biology, and the basics of genetic engineering. Gonick's drawings range from a moderately detailed look at ribosomes in action to loony pictures of dancing scientists, talking peas, and opinionated fruit flies. Matthew Meselson, co-discoverer of the "one gene-one protein" principle, says, "it puts textbooks to shame"--and he's right. --Mary Ellen Curtin

Review

"If you can't learn Mendelian genetics from this text, I guess you never will." -- -- New Scientist

"It puts textbooks to shame." -- -- Matthew Meselson, Professor of Biology, Harvard Univercity

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Updated edition (July 8, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062730991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062730992
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Larry Gonick has been creating comics that explain history, science, and other big subjects for more than thirty years, ever since Blood from a Stone: A Cartoon Guide to Tax Reform appeared in 1977. He has been a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT and was staff cartoonist for Muse magazine from 1998 to 2015.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Darren X on May 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am a reasonably intelligent person with no biology background, trying to make sense of genetics so I can understand discussions about genetic engineering, medicine, the Human Genome Project, creation-evolution, etc. I have tried to read the genetics sections of biology textbooks to understand what's going on, but I find it hard to get the big picture from those. This book is perfect... it starts right from the beginning, and builds carefully and simply all the way to recombinant DNA, glossing over a few hard details but not making any huge, puzzling leaps like other books seem to. My girlfriend, taking third year undergraduate genetics, was astonished at how much material was covered so clearly in such a small book. The book is also fascinating as a study of how science really works. I'm ready for more genetics now!
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Yoshiro Aoki on October 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am a student that has completed university-level biology over the past year (2004) with an `A' average, and presently studying the application of computer science to biological problems. I found this book laying in a professor's office so I borrowed it for kicks. What a surprise to find the principle concepts of biology arranged so well as to make a quick afternoon review of the basics possible. I really like modern university science texts, but sometimes the interrelationships of concepts are lost in the flood of information from them. This book lifts the academic information fog away from those interrelationships so that they may be clearly seen. Concepts traditionally separated by chapters of information are brought together in the space of a funny drawing or two in this book. I wish I had this book before I went through basic biology, because I think I would have gotten more out of the course with such an overview. But that didn't stop me from killing all hope of a curve at exam time:)
By the way, although this book was published in 1991 the content remains quite accurate to this date with few exceptions, most notably the 2 page emphasis on `one gene - one enzyme' (pp114-115). This has changed now with the discovery of alternative splicing just a few years ago. But overall, the book remains a very useful overview of an incredibly fascinating field of science.
5 stars
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Ivi on July 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. It was so much fun. I'm a medical school student and I just finished a Cell Biology class. The first time I read "The Cartoon Guide to Genetics" was 3 years ago, when I didn't know lots of Biology. Now as a student, I read it again and I was amazed to see that all the concepts I was learning at school were clearly explained in this book and in the most hilarious manner. As I was reading it, I couldn't believe I was actually laughing! Simply GREAT!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "swift112" on April 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
I'm no science genius and college zoology left me still in the dark regarding DNA. I bought this book because one reviewer said that his colleague was using it for a genetics course and I knew a student who needed some help with genetics. I read the book myself, and then spoke with the student. This book would be great for someone in Introductory Biology but for someone in a genetics course it's simply not advanced enough. But the book did help me understand DNA for the first time. It also showed me that a good instructor can make the whole field understandable and interesting unlike my college zoology professor who only made it intimidating and boring. Now if the genetics instructor I'm thinking of would read this maybe she'd figure out how not to bore her class to sleep.
Seriously I loved the historical approach to the field, the cartoons and the jokes were great. This book took the intimidation factor out of biology to a degree. Now I can at least talk intelligently about the subject. High school students could learn a lot from this, and struggling college freshmen might not struggle quite so badly in introductory biology with this at their side.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James Jorasch on February 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
Having graduated from college more than ten years ago, I was becoming increasingly frustrated in trying to keep up with the latest advances in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry. The biology classes that I took seemed to have faded from memory a bit too much. Reading this book, however, brought back a flood of memories and helped to consolidate my understanding. Now when companies talk about developing new antibiotics that interfere with ribosomal activity I can visualize what that means. When scientists talk about how difficult proteomics will be relative to sequencing the genome, I can sympathize. This book also helped me appreciate the overall theory of genetics. The courses that I took as a kid seemed to jump directly into the details without providing a good overall roadmap. This book provides that roadmap and serves as a great launching point for further understanding. With the big picture in mind, I feel like I am ready to tackle much more complicated issues with confidence. For another great introductory text, see "The Way Life Works" by Mahlon Hoagland.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alan R. Holyoak on August 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Larry Gonick and Mark Wheelis have put together a wonderfully entertaining and relatively painless introduction to the field of genetics. Don't let the cartoon based approach fool you...there is good stuff in this book.
If you have had a tough time with the basics of genetics, then this book is probably for you. When I was an undergraduate student I stumbled through my genetics course, but it wasn't until I saw this book that many of the fundamental concepts made sense to me.
This book IS fun...but be careful, you might actually learn something as you thumb through it or read it. The book contains information on the basics of genetic theory, the people behind the theory, Mendelian genetics, and molecular genetics (e.g., what DNA is, how it copies itself, and how the information it carries codes for protein synthesis).
I actually have a colleague who has used this book to supplement the main text he uses in his genetics course.
Definitely a five star effort!
Alan Holyoak, Dept of Biology, Manchester College, IN
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The Cartoon Guide to Genetics (Updated Edition)
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