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on May 24, 2000
I am a computer scientist and I did my Ph.D. dissertation in the area of Computational Biology. My problem was that I had no background in molecular biology (or any other kind of biology for that matter). Many conference speakers and scientific papers would leave me lost. I didn't need to be an expert in biology, but I did need to have some idea of what was going on.
This book was a Godsend for me. It is an easy read, filled with humor and drawings. But don't let that mislead you, it is also filled with a wealth of useful information, especially for a novice to the field. Reading this book will not make you a molecular biologist, but it will allow you to talk reasonably intelligently to one. I recomend this book very highly to anyone who has an interest in this field, but doesn't know much about it. It is a great stepping stone to more complex texts and papers.
11 comment70 of 72 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 17, 2002
I am a high school science teacher starting up a new biotechnology program for our students. I have been looking for a text to supplement the curriculum that is informative, accurate and readable for high school students. This book is the best I've seen.
What makes this book so extrememly valuable is that it is eminently readable. Through humor, illustrations, examples and great graphics, the subject matter comes to life. Informative texts are worthless if no one reads them, or, if in reading them, cannot understand them! The authors have accomplished something great here and have indeed made the subject simple and fun.
I know that my high school students will be able to get something from this book. This does not mean, however, that the book is extremely basic or easy. The information presented is extensive and accurate. It is the way the book is written that will allow readers to absorb more information. Here is an example paragraph from the introduction to Chapter 9, Messing About with DNA:
"Suppose we want to create our very own monster by genetic engineering. How do we go about it? Frankenstein made his monster by sewing a brain into a body and then charging up his creation with a lightning bolt. Genetic engineers make patchwork organisms not by joining organs but by splicing genes together. So, let's get started on some basic operations."
You can see how friendly and readable the book is.
This book is for you if you are an undergraduate or high school student of biotechnology or if you are a layperson simply interested in the subject matter.
0Comment44 of 47 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This book is advertised as a text for the lay person that can also serve as a textbook for levels ranging from high school to graduate school. Unfortunately, this is a drawback, as the book tries to be all things to all people. The book is written in a conversational style and makes use of numerous cartoon drawings in its explanations. Most of the diagrams are very helpful. However, some drawings are somewhat juvenile and cheesy with faces drawn on enzymes, for example. Extra wide margins contain definitions of words used in the adjacent text as well as occasional jokes and anecdotes. Molecular terms are redefined whenever they are used, so you can skip around in the book with no problem understanding what is being presented.

The introductory chapter compares the molecular biology revolution with the industrial revolution. The next few chapters review bacteria, basic genetics, and the molecular basis of heredity. These are followed by chapters on the basics of DNA replication, transcription, and proteins. All these fundamentals are very well covered, and the diagrams illustrate the points well.

The next few chapters review various techniques including gene transfer in bacteria, with subjects such as transformation and plasmids being well covered. There is also coverage of DNA manipulation including purification, restriction enzymes, and agarose gel electrophoresis. Other chapters concerning methodology cover PCR and DNA sequencing. There is a very good chapter on transgenics that includes micro-injection, knock-outs, and reporter genes. One chapter is devoted specifically to the techniques of molecular biology. This contains a rather brief overview of a wide array of techniques such as bandshift assays, detection systems, FACS, and RFLP that could easily have been expanded. Other chapters focus on the applied side of molecular technology with discussions of topics such as biotechnology products and forensic medicine. The book also brings the subject matter home with very good chapters on inherited diseases as well as cancer and aging, and shows how biology at the molecular level comes into play in each of these matters.

Overall, there is a strong emphasis on DNA at the expense of RNA. Similarly, there is not much information on protein analysis. Even the authors cannot keep up with the speed of the molecular biology revolution, since a number of current popular techniques, such as differential display and quantitative PCR, are only briefly mentioned or are not even included.

Overall, Molecular Biology Made Simple and Fun contains" some useful information, especially with respect to DNA techniques and applications. This book would probably be most applicable as a supplementary textbook for an introductory college class on molecular biology or as a reference guide to look up unfamiliar molecular techniques, such as ones that might be encountered in journal articles. I think it might be too advanced for high school students. I found it a fairly accessible read and very informative, and my background is in engineering and computer science, not biology, other than what I took as a college undergraduate. I highly recommend it.

The table of contents is as folows:

1. Introduction.

2. Bacteria: The Molecular BIologists's Guinea Pigs

3. Basic Genetics

4. Required Reading: The Molecular Basis of Heredity

5. Duplicating the DNA: Replication.

6. Getting the Message Out: Transcription of Genes to Produce Messenger RNA

7. Proteins: The Buck Stops Here

8. Gene Transfer in Bacteria

9. Messing About with DNA

10. Products from BIotechnology

11. Genetic Organization in Higher Organisms

12. Mutations: Things That Go Bump in the Night

13. Inherited Human Disease

14. Cancer and Aging

15. Down on the Farm: Transgenic Plants and Animals

16. Just Do It! Techniques of Molecular BIology

17. PCR: The Polymerase Chain Reaction and Its Many Uses

18. Whodunit? Forensic Medicine and Molecular Biology

19. Gene Creatures, Part I: Viruses, Viroids and Plasmids

20. Gene Creatures, Part II: Jumping Genes and Junk DNA

21. Biological Warfare

22. The Molecular Defense Initiative: Your Immune System at Work

23. Sequencing DNA

24. Molecular Evolution: Memories of "The Way We Were"

25. Classification: BIology for the Neurotic and the Obsessive-Compulsive

26. A Brief History of Molecular Biology

27. Molecular Biology: A Millenial Update

28. What Was Said - What Was Meant: Understanding a Seminar in Molecular Biology.
11 comment37 of 39 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 5, 1999
The book is great for those just learning about molecular biology. Unlike other molecular biology texts such as Lodish et al's MBC or Alberts et al's Mol Bio of Cell, however, it will not be of much use as a reference for graduate students or faculty. Besides its funny (but a bit corny) prose, one of the best things is its coverage of methodology (chapters 15, 16, and 17). Everything's in one place!--very helpful. Finally, beware the error in Fig. 7.25 and 7.26. Polarities of mRNA are not shown, but if they were, you'd see that the amino acid is incorrectly placed on the 5' end of the tRNA. Fig. 7.28 is correctly done. I eagerly await the 2nd edition (if there is one) that fixes this and any other errors.
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on October 3, 2005
I was working with a team of non-scientists that were embarking on a market study focused on customers in the Molecular Biology field. This book (which we referred to as "The Monkey Book") has been a great introduction to provide an overview of the basics of Molecular Biology and common terms/techniques used in the industry.

The book has a lot of humor built in too...which makes its reading very enjoyable.

I would say this is a must-have for those looking to begin learning about Molecular Biology.
0Comment10 of 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 30, 2008
This book fit my expectations perfectly. I'm an IT guy working at a biotech, looking to become familiar with subject matter in which I need to help design supporting databases. I'm also just in possession of an inquisitive mind! It covered a reasonably large amount of material in molecular biology and especially genetics at a layman's level. You won't need an extensive background and knowledge in organic chemistry, biology, physiology, etc. to comprehend the material. It isn't filled with mathematical equations and chemical formulae. Instead, it contains a lot of helpful illustrations. The author has thoughtfully highlighted key words so I don't have to, and repeated the definitions of these key words in the margins. I would leave it to more knowledgeable experts in the field to assess just how deep the material really is. IMO though, if you're looking for a good introductory read that seems to go fairly deep down the rabbit hole, but is easy-to-read all the way down, then I highly recommend this book.
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on April 17, 2006
As the title says it,it is a great book. The book is so well written. I fist came across this book online and borrowed the second edition from the library. I am an electrochemist and I thoroughly enjoy and understand this book. If you want to learn about molecular biology, where the science is going etc., this is a good book to start with. If you are into investing and would like to understand a bit about what the nerdy scientists are talking about, this book will armor you with that knowledge.

Having said that, I recently bought the third edition and have to say that I am not satisfied with the quality. For $50, we get a book which looks like one of those eastern pirated copies. There are no margins in the book to make notes. The paper quality is so bad that you can see the back page contents while reading and it is annoying. If I were you, I would save money and buy the second edition instead. The second edition has pretty much the same content. I would return this book if Amazon were to refund the entire money!
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on June 15, 1999
As a student studying cell biology, some concepts can be hard to grasp, this book is an excellent tool for both students and teachers. Difficult to understand topics are made easy to grasp, and to understand. Their examples done with cartoons and numonic devices help you to remember and learn the genreral concepts behind various topics. On a scale of 1-10, I give it a 10!
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on October 4, 1998
Wonderfull overview of molecular biology, I highly recommend it.
I have recomended this book to many graduate students who have a molecular component to their thesis (and are a little rusty) and to many undergraduates working in with molecular ecology research. Everyone that I have recommended this book to has enojoyed it and found it useful. Covers concepts making them easy to understand without "dumbing down" the scientific background. I have one copy at home and one in the lab to loan out. A must have for any teaching laboratory, especially if you have people with non-molecular biology backgrounds (our lab does applied genetic work and has people with ecology and conservation biology backgrounds starting conservation genetics/population genetics projects). Was a great review for me at the start of graduate school and a fun read.
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on September 22, 1998
I struggled for over a year trying to gain enough background to be able to read the current literature in gene therapy before I came across this book. If you went through medical training more than 10 years ago, chances are you did not get any of this information, either. Once I had Clark and Russell digested I was able to understand the materials presented in Nature Medicine. They have performed a remarkable service for the physician trying to embrace the coming of the next great era in medicine
0Comment5 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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