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The Cartoon Guide to Genetics (Updated Edition) [Paperback]

Larry Gonick , Mark Wheelis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 14, 1991 0062730991 978-0062730992 Updated

Have you ever asked yourself:

Are spliced genes the same as mended Levis?

Watson and Crick? Aren't they a team of British detectives?

Plant sex? Can they do that?

Is Genetic Mutation the name of one of those heavy metal bands?

Asparagine? Which of the four food groups is that in?

Then you need The Cartoon Guide to Genetics to explain the important concepts of classical and modern genetics—it's not only educational, it's funny too!

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The Cartoon Guide to Genetics (Updated Edition) + The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry + The Cartoon Guide to Physics
Price for all three: $41.88

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Editorial Reviews 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


"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

Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Updated edition (August 14, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062730991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062730992
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,321 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 is staff cartoonist for Muse magazine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genetics makes sense at last! May 4, 2000
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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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A valuable overview and review October 13, 2005
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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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biology is FUN! July 6, 2001
By Ivi
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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Demystifies DNA April 18, 2001
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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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Content too old and incorrect January 13, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book hoping to learn about basic principles of genetics in an easy-to-understand format. What I found was that the material was written many years ago. All you need to do is to check the copyright year. I knew that the one glaring error was the belief that there are 200,000 genes. We now know there are about 30,000. But it left me wondering what other information was outdated. Not wanting to learn incorrect information, I sent it back. If the authors update the content, then buy it because it's an enjoyable book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great refresher course on genetics February 7, 2001
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars nice book
I like the style of the writing. It's a nice book for beginners or "idots" to understand the complicated concept through the beautiful explanations in this book.
Published 1 month ago by Santata
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for adults too!
I bought this as a recommended supplemental reading for Coursera's DNA class. I read good things about it. The other reviews are right. This is awesome. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mark Wintle
5.0 out of 5 stars good review method
make a dry topic interesting and easier to understand.
a good way to review or even learn more complicated topics
Published 5 months ago by Carol I. Paquette
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Get it now!
Enjoyed the book. Does a very good introducing some basic (and semi-advanced) topics in genetics! To my surprise, Gonick even describes the lac operon! Read more
Published 6 months ago by KC
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe this is how we should teach science at school
This book literally changed my life. I was another electronics guy plugging away at chips in silicon valley. In a bookstore I picked this up and bought it for a laugh. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Phil O'Gnosis
5.0 out of 5 stars Genetics
My wife works in Genetics and is constantly confusing me with all of the terminology. Bill Gates recommends the Cartoon Guide to Statistics and while looking at that I finally came... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jamie O'Byrne
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible
I need to learn about biology for some school work I'm doing and "A computer Scientists Guide to Cell Biology" recommended this as a quick primer. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Kristopher A Zarns
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Genetics
I found this book very helpful indeed. It was written in a clear style and explained genetics in simple language.
Published 10 months ago by Leefowlers
5.0 out of 5 stars What a fun way to learn about this fascinating topic!
As a professor in health related field I have recommended this little book to students as a quick overview of genetics,and most have liked it very much Was I surprised when my 9... Read more
Published 16 months ago by nana
5.0 out of 5 stars DNA
This was a fun and accurate book on describing the double helix of DNA.
It had just enough background to explain how the discoveries came about without boring me.
Published 16 months ago by Laura S. Nonamaker
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