on November 6, 2011
This book strikes the perfect balance of clarity and brevity. The explanations are thorough without being verbose, and the book does not try to go out of its way to be a comprehensive guide to biochemistry or cell biology, which is not its subject matter. Instead what one gets are clear, focused, easy-to-read explanations of the core of molecular biology (replication, transcription, translation, DNA damage and maintenance) that are essential for anyone working in the life sciences. Additionally, the illustrations are eminently clear and do not contain any unnecessary information.
One major complaint I have is the illustrations for phage lambda gene regulation. The DNA is shown as a single cylinder, but this is misleading because genes reside on both strands. It is important to remember the directionality of genes and promoters in this system, and condensing all information onto a single strand temporarily inhibited my understanding of this section.
Also, the next edition introduces a new chapter on RNA and its role in gene regulation - i.e. riboswitches, RNAi, and RNA silencing. This material is completely absent from this edition since it is so new.
Overall this is the finest example of a textbook I have come across in my undergraduate career. I always came away from reading it with a clear picture of what was being described. The does one thing and does it well - clear descriptions of molecular biology.
on November 18, 2007
"Molecular Biology of the Gene," James Watson et. al, 5th Edition, CSHL Press, NY 2004, ISBN 0-8053-4635-X, HC 732 pages, includes Preface, Index & inter-active CD-ROM & Website. 11 1/4" x 8 3/4".
J.D. Watson authored first three editions (1965-'76), co-authored 4th ('87) & this 5th ('04) with Baker, Bell, Gann, Levine & Losick. CD works in Windows, but Mac OS X needs Classic for some sections (CHIME). This treatise has 21 chapters divided into 5 major parts: I-Chem.& Genetics, II-Genome Maintenance, III-Genome Expression, IV-Regulation and V-Methodologies.
The discourse best assumes readers to have both core & some advanced study in biology, chemistry, physics & genetics. It is a tutorial & reference manual with detailed covering of history of genetics, Mendelian heredity, elucidation & clarificaion of double helix, Crick's central dogma 1956, genetic code, weak & high-energy bonds, protein structure, conformation, modularity & domains, allostery, topologies, RNA structure, chromosomal sequence & diversity, duplication, chromatin structure & regulation, nucleosome assembly, DNA polymerase, binding & unwinding, replication error & repairs, DNA damage, recombination, transposition, transciption, splicings, shuffling, ribosomes, gene regulation in pro- & eu-karyotes, embryogenesis of Drosophila, genome evolution & methodologies for phage, bacteria, yeast, fly & mouse.
A formidable and now classic text fittingly entrusted to an elite working group in the US, UK and Canada. Most comforting is the liberal use of diagrams on essentially every page & the interactive CD.
on September 18, 2006
I got this book to assist for my prep for the Biochemistry GRE - I know a lot about Biology. So this is a great Book - First, It is very readable - I was surprised I was not able to put it down and knocked off 100 pages in record time. Besided that - it is enjoyable and not dull and boring - Second, The great experiments are given and insight into the science reasoning behind them also. This book makes the discover of genetics, DNA, RNA and protein building come alive. Third, this book is very current with research and cites the papers and journals where the important biology, Genetic, molecular & cell biology was published. That alone would save you the time to research and site these for your own research. Lastly, the pictures and recollections of the experimenters and "who knew who" are a total hoot.
on July 12, 2005
I am a layman with a serious interest in biology. I read science news, especially in Nature and Scientific American, and I often find that I don't have enough background to understand articles at the level at which I want to understand them. I bought this book hoping to get that background, and I wasn't disappointed.
For example, once the human genome was sequenced, it appeared that there were far too few genes for an organism as complex as ourselves. But investigation shows that most genes occur in segments and that the messenger RNA must be cut and spliced before the protein can be formed. Often there are two or more ways the RNA may be spliced, so that one gene can specify more than one protein. Another problem is that the genome seemed to consist mostly of sections that don't code for proteins; these were called "junk". But it turns out that some "junk" DNA codes for RNA sequences that have catalytic and regulatory roles, roles which used to be considered the bailiwick of proteins alone. Articles about topics such as these used to confuse me thoroughly, but after reading this book I find them much clearer.
This book benefits from a great many illustrations and I recommend that you go through each one as you would a worked problem in a math text. Observe how the pieces fit together, how a particular group of atoms enhances or inhibits a reaction. The practice will help you to understand other things you will read later.
I called this a "reference" for good reason: I assume that I will come across many future articles which will send me back to it to fill in some background.
[Added 4 July 2006] As I assumed when I first wrote this review, I have used it for reference. I have read several books about what I call "enhanced evolution", where mechanisms that go beyond simple point mutations speed up evolution by providing more variation. For example, gene regulation, alternate splicing, and gene duplication all play important roles. I have surprised myself by remembering more than I expected to (thanks to the clarity of this book) but I have still used it for clarification.