Friday, February 15, 2013

In Pursuit of the Gene: From Darwin to DNA

[August 2009] I wanted to be interested in this book, but I kept finding myself putting it down, and only with much effort was I able to finish. The writing style is fairly accessible. However, the content seems to be a little too compressed. There are many players involved and many bits of biology to keep track of. The subtitle may also be better stated as "Darwin to DNA (exclusive)" The discussion of DNA is passed over quickly in a final epilogue.

The book approaches science through a very personal approach, putting forth much of the "behind the scenes" relationships and competition that took place to arrive at the better understanding of genetics. The story is built through the history of the intertwined relationships of many of the great biologists, starting with Darwin and going on to nearly the present day. The focus is on a few significant players, providing at times fairly detailed biographies of both personal and scientific life.

Unfortunately, it falls short in trying to do too much. With so many people covered, it became difficult to sort one from the other. The details of their discoveries also was jumbled and not explained in clear detail. For somebody with an existing knowledge of the key discoveries and discoverers, this book would likely provide enjoyable insights in to the background of the discoveries. However, as a human biography or an introduction to the origins of genetics, it falls flat.

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