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Masterminds: Genius, DNA, and the Quest to Rewrite Life Paperback – May 2, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (May 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060537396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060537395
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,282,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Duncan turns a scarily bright light on the exploding frontiers of biotechnology” (Vanity Fair)

“Duncan turns his discerning eye toward the role of personality in science ... remarkable profiles ... Duncan’s prose is lively and engaging” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“Explores the personalities and motivations of researchers now operating at the cutting edge of headline-making science.” (Washington Post Book World)

“A provocative, entertaining, and, yes, chilling journey.” (Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City)

“A book for every human being who read the science section over the past few years and thought, Holy #@&!!” (Mary Roach, author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers)

“Vivid, memorable portrayals of the scientists working on biology’s most fascinating frontiers.” (James Fallows, Atlantic Monthly)

“Daring and dead-accurate. Top notch.” (Po Bronson)

“A sparkling, fascinating book about the most important phenomenon of the new millennium, the biotech revolution.” (James Reston, Jr., author of Galileo: A Life)

“200 year old people? Emails sent by brain waves? [Duncan] sketches the (possible) future.” (USA Weekend)

“An interesting book . . . clear and helpful.” (The Times (London))

“Valuable insights into the debates within genetic science . . . intriguing” (New Scientist)

About the Author

David Ewing Duncan is the author of five books, including the international bestseller Calendar, and writes for Wired, Discover, and The Atlantic Monthly. He is a freelance producer and correspondent for ABC's Nightline, and a commentator on NPR's Morning Edition. He also writes the popular "Biotech and Creativity" column for the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2003, he won the Magazine Journalism Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He lives in San Francisco, California.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Goldengate Avenue on May 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
While I thought I was pretty informed within the American Biotech universe, it seems there is a greater hero. David Duncan is truly an expert on the topic. He introduces the reader to the greatest scientific minds of our age(through interviews) and links them together through the entertaining device of his own personal encounters with them. The book is truly informative but is also compelling as a narrative. Interestingly also, David Duncan is the co-host of NPR's radio show, Biotech Nation, although that bit of information doesn't seem to be mentioned in any of the coverage here.

I do find it tragic, however, that since the hard back book carries a completely different title than the softback, the rave reviews of the hardback haven't transferred over to the review commentary of the softback (Masterminds:...). For those of you interested in checking out those rave reviews, look up the following title: The Geneticist Who Played Hoops with My DNA : . . . And Other Masterminds from the Frontiers of Biotech.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jason Roberts on June 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you're at all intrigued by biotechnology (and you should be--it'll change our world more profoundly than electronics did), you can't do better than to pick up this book as an engaging, compulsively readible introduction to the field. Duncan innovatively skips the dry lectures, choosing instead to roll out a series of well-wrought profiles of some of biotechnology's most prominent and influential figures.

By keeping the human aspect in the forefront (and these are some colorful characters), Duncan introduces the science, technology and industry of biotech contextually, almost effortlessly. I read this in hardcover, when it sported an unfortunately irrelevant cover and a more unwieldy title (THE GENETICIST WHO PLAYED HOOPS WITH MY DNA). I'm glad to see this book at last packaged in a way that accurately reflects the writing within. MASTERMINDS popularizes without patronizing, remaining true to both its subject and its audience. Not many general-interest science books manage to pull that off.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By readergal on May 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
I'm not a science person, but I'd been reading so much about DNA in the news in the past few years, I thought I should learn a bit about what was going on. I picked up Masterminds because it was a SF Chronicle Best Book of 2005. Still, i expected to be bored. That's the price you pay for knowledge, right? Wrong! Masterminds kept me entranced right until the last page. By showing us the lives and personalities of eminent scientists, Masterminds gave me a better understanding of the complex questions (and answers) of science, today.
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