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Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters (P.S.)
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Readers unfamiliar with the jargon of genetic research needn't fear; Ridley provides a quick, clear guide to the few words and concepts he must use to translate hard science into English. His writing is informal, relaxed, and playful, guiding the reader so effortlessly through our 23 chromosomes that by the end we wish we had more. He believes that the Human Genome Project will be as world-changing as the splitting of the atom; if so, he is helping us prepare for exciting times--the hope of a cure for cancer contrasts starkly with the horrors of newly empowered eugenicists. Anyone interested in the future of the body should get a head start with the clever, engrossing Genome. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
FIVE STARS - because of how interesting the subject matter is. DNA, it seems, isn't a brilliant piece of software to make bodies. It's more a committee of chemicals each trying to propogate themselves, and often at odds with the other chemicals in DNA (97% of which don't actually do anything!) And this is the stuff that to a large extent makes us US!
FIVE STARS - because of how well written some sections are. Chapter 4, for instance, which talks about the researcher who not only can tell you IF you're going to get Huntington's chorea, but can tell you what age you'll get it, simply by counting the number of times a particular gene sequence repeats. I was left haunted by the question, if I had a high risk for H.C., would I get the test done, simply to know when the symptoms would start?
FIVE STARS - Because of the research. This is the most up to date book on the subject available at the moment. He cites research done as close as 1998.
BUT FOUR STARS - because although some parts were absolutely mind-blowingly interesting and could be considered _classic_ bits of writing, the prose in other parts seemed to get a bit heavy and tedious, and I had to put it down. I was surprised by my own reaction, having been so thoroughly entertained a few short chapters before. But it means I can't give it five stars, because that rating is for out and out classics. (Which this book nearly is. Damn.)
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.Read more ›
This is a far ranging discussion, moving from the genetic impacts on sexuality, personality, disease (or more appropriately resistance to disease), longevity, and other topics. It is an excellent, intriguing book for anyone who reads it. The scientific information can get a little overwhelming, but every turn of the page can reveal a new understanding about who we are and how our exploding genetic knowledge might shape our future.
Our knowledge of our genes is progressing at a rapid rate, so much so, that by the time I finish writing this sentence, our knowledge of the human genetic code has been updated. If you wish to know what kinds of things are being discovered, this book is a very good place to find it.
Matt Ridley devotes each chapter to one of our chromosones-23 in all, and describes some useful dicoveries and speculations regarding each. From such things as the ability to digest lactose, blood groups, cancer suppressors, 'instinct',intelligence, ethics, free will, allergies, aspects of language, ageing, sex, cloning, test tube babies, Mad Cow disease etc, he describes in a clever and clear way the discoveries being made in the field.
I would give the book 4 1/2 stars,(but there are no halves in these reviews), as no book is ever perfect, but a point to remember is no understanding of our world, or our genes themselves, is ever perfect either. But we can find pieces to the puzzle, useful and uplifting, and that is what this book is about.
Ridleys style is clear and clever, my only quibble is that he displays perhaps just a touch of arrogance, and a subtle air of bias. But give the author his due, an author is entitled to his opinions and leanings, what is important is that he generally makes it clear when he does so.
The book is highly recommended for both those familiar with the jargon, and those with enthusiastic minds who wish to learn about it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of the most boring books I have read. I am pretty into anything science related, but this book was just not that interesting. Read morePublished 1 month ago by HM
A good introduction into the subject matter, but still lacking in some respects. I enjoyed the structure of 23 chapters actin as a biography of sorts on each of the gene pairs. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jim C
fascinating but complex info is clearly presented by author Ridley. People who think they have simple answers to human beings need to read just one chapter of this to realize the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Alice James
Excellent overview of this emerging field, now a bit dated
but still a very good introduction.
Just finished reading this book, and it had opened my eyes to understanding and embracing my genesPublished 3 months ago by chaz stewart