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The Writing Life of James D. Watson 1st Edition

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0879697006
ISBN-10: 0879697008
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 193 pages
  • Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; 1 edition (September 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879697008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879697006
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.8 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,026,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
This is a rather odd fish of a book, in that it is not in any sense a biography of James Watson of DNA-double helix fame, although the opening chapter leaps and bounds through his educational upbringing and career as a scientist and administrator. Friedberg intends, instead, to talk about James Watson the science writer, both with respect to his two autobiographical books and his science textbooks, e.g. "Molecular Biology of the Gene" and "Molecular Biology of the Cell", and to give Watson a pioneering place in the history of science writing. Friedberg rightly points out the strong influence of the two textbooks titles mentioned, to the point where one professor wrote a letter to one of Watson's co-authors on "Molecular Biology of the Cell" that she was returning her advance royalty on a cell biology textbook that she had intended to write, but gave up after "Molecular Biology of the Cell" appeared.

However, Friedberg defangs his own intent in his foreword when he says that "I do not attempt to deconstruct Watson's literary style and influences or to probe his beliefs and innovations". Furthermore, he actually partly contradicts this statement in the opening chapter, where he talks about Watson being surrounded by good books in his childhood, for example. The tone of discussion of Watson's major textbooks is fairly adulatory, if in a dry, understated way. Given that Watson was still very much around and influential at the time of Friedberg writing this book, and that this book is published from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, even though he states that Watson did not interfere or intrude in any way with the book's production or content, Friedberg understandably knows which side his bread is buttered on with respect to any sort of 'criticism'.
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