Winter Driving Best Books of the Month Men's Leather Watches Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Stephen Kellogg Explore Home Audio All-New Amazon Fire TV Subscribe & Save Valentine's Day Cards Bring a little greenery into your home Amazon Gift Card Offer girls2 girls2 girls2  Amazon Echo All-New Fire Kindle Paperwhite Shop Now Sale
Customer Review

115 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendously entertaining, enjoyable romp through genetics, June 6, 2003
This review is from: Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters (Paperback)
This is the book that I wish Steven Pinker's "How the Mind Works" was. Matt Ridley unfolds the human genome for us in a crisply written and precise "Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters." OK, I don't know what the Hades that means, but this guy is a good writer, a smart scientist, and a friendly teacher of what is a really cool, but intimidating, branch of learning.
Ridley's got a little shtick, which he openly mocks himself, where his 23 chapters each represent one of the 23 human chromosomes. It's kind of an interesting little angle, you want to like this guy, anyway, so the shtick mostly works, although I don't really have a sense that each of our 23 chromosomes is a particular type of chromosome at the end of it.
Genome is a lot of good science explained with a clear, well-constructed hand. In an excellent seven-page introduction, Ridley answered for me all sorts of questions that my scientifically-literate yet communication-challenged science friends have been unable to answer, to wit:
"Imagine that the genome is a book.
There are twenty-three chapters, called Chromosomes.
Each chapter contains several thousand stories, called Genes.
Each story is made up of paragraphs, called Exons, which are interrupted by advertisements called Introns.
Each paragraph is made up of words, called Codons.
Each word is written in letters called Bases."
Very nicely done, brings it to an understandable level for the literate layperson, and establishes a very solid foundation from which he is able to unfold the rest of this story.
He handles the basic science very well, and mostly shys away from the "Believe It or Not!" school of science reporting, though the occasional oddity does pop up. One thing I found fascinating is the existence of "chimeras." Which is one creature ( a human, a mouse, anything) that has two different genomes in it: "Think of them as the opposite of identical twins: two different genomes in one body, instead of two different bodies with the same genome." This means that you could be the single body of two different people that had accidentally fused in the womb. Really weird thought experiment, no?
He places humans and our development in the context of our nearest genetic cousins - the chimpanzees and the gorillas and so forth. And elucidates a number of compare and contrast thoughts: "What it means is that the mating system of the species was changing. The promiscuity of the chimp, with its short sexual liaisons, and the harem polygamy of the gorilla, were being replaced with something much more monogamous: a declining ratio of sexual dimorphism is unambiguous evidence for that."
Ridley's wordcraft is superior. Enjoy all the learning, implications, and human foibles he packs into this one sentence on language acquisition:
"Thus, although no other primate can learn grammatical language at all - and we are indebted to many diligent, sometimes gullible and certainly wishful trainers of chimpanzees and gorillas for thoroughly exhausting all possibilities to the contrary - language is intimately connected with sound production and processing."
It is really just masterful. Even more enjoyable if you read it in an English accent on account of Ridley's living there according to the dust jacket.
In sum, if you are looking for an introduction to genetics, DNA, and our genome, and are the omnivore type of reader with a decent head on your shoulders, this book is for you. I enjoyed it tremendously and it's given me a very good grounding for my further reading into evolutionary psychology.
Enjoy strongly!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details