The Double Helix
A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
The classic personal account of Watson and Crick’s groundbreaking discovery of the structure of DNA, now with an introduction by Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind.
By identifying the structure of DNA, the molecule of life, Francis Crick and James Watson revolutionized biochemistry and won themselves a Nobel Prize. At the time, Watson was only twenty-four, a young scientist hungry to make his mark. His uncompromisingly honest account of the heady days of their thrilling sprint against other world-class researchers to solve one of science’s greatest mysteries gives a dazzlingly clear picture of a world of brilliant scientists with great gifts, very human ambitions, and bitter rivalries.
With humility unspoiled by false modesty, Watson relates his and Crick’s desperate efforts to beat Linus Pauling to the Holy Grail of life sciences, the identification of the basic building block of life. Never has a scientist been so truthful in capturing in words the flavor of his work.
Originally published in 1968, The Double Helix combines the personal and scientific memoirs of molecular biologist Watson and his early career search for the structure of DNA. With numerous photographs, journal pages, and illustrations of molecular structures as well as thorough annotations that clarify events, collaborations, and diagrams, this new edition celebrates the 50th anniversary of Watson, Crick, and Wilkins receiving the Nobel Prize in Medicine. "One could not be a successful scientist without realizing that, in contrast to the popular conception supported by newspapers and mothers of scientists, a goodly number of scientists are not only narrow-minded and dull, but also just stupid." With a peppering of humor and detailed accounts of his personal interactions, Watson describes his quest to uncover DNA's structure at Cambridge University in the early 1950s, which finally resulted in the discovery of the double helix. Numerous appendices include a chapter about his Nobel Prize experiences, the first letters about the double helix, a previously unpublished chapter, and reviews of the original edition. Watson strikes a balance between science for the layman and science for the scientist, resulting in a memoir that will hold the interest of a broad, scientifically-minded audience.