The #1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post and Seattle Times Best Book of the Year
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies—a fascinating history of the gene and “a magisterial account of how human minds have laboriously, ingeniously picked apart what makes us tick” (Elle).
“Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee dazzled readers with his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Emperor of All Maladies in 2010. That achievement was evidently just a warm-up for his virtuoso performance in The Gene: An Intimate History, in which he braids science, history, and memoir into an epic with all the range and biblical thunder of Paradise Lost” (The New York Times). In this biography Mukherjee brings to life the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.
“Mukherjee expresses abstract intellectual ideas through emotional stories…[and] swaddles his medical rigor with rhapsodic tenderness, surprising vulnerability, and occasional flashes of pure poetry” (The Washington Post). Throughout, the story of Mukherjee’s own family—with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness—reminds us of the questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In riveting and dramatic prose, he describes the centuries of research and experimentation—from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Morgan to Crick, Watson and Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary twenty-first century innovators who mapped the human genome.
“A fascinating and often sobering history of how humans came to understand the roles of genes in making us who we are—and what our manipulation of those genes might mean for our future” (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), The Gene is the revelatory and magisterial history of a scientific idea coming to life, the most crucial science of our time, intimately explained by a master. “The Gene is a book we all should read” (USA TODAY).
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Inquiries into human heredity date back to Greek scholars like Pythagoras and Aristotle. But the ability to decipher and manipulate the human genome is a relatively new scientific development, which will impact the future in ways we can scarcely guess. With The Gene, Siddhartha Mukherjee—who won a Pulitzer for The Emperor of All Maladies, a fascinating survey of cancer—maps the history of genetic science, raising questions about morality, politics, and psychology along the way. Mukherjee’s writing is stunning, whether he’s making sense of complex scientific notions or his own family’s legacy of mental illness.
In skillful prose, Mukherjee, an oncologist and the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies, relates the grand tale of how scientists have come to understand the role genes play in human development, behavior, and physiology. He deftly relates the basic scientific facts about the way genes are believed to function, while making clear the aspects of genetics that remain unknown. Mukherjee offers insight into both the scientific process and the sociology of science, exploring the crucial experiments that have shed light on the biochemical complexities inherent in the genome. He also examines many of the philosophical and moral quandaries that have long swirled around the study of genetics, addressing such important topics as eugenics, stem cell research, and what it means to use the composition of a person's genotype to make predictions about his or her health or behavior. Looking to the future, Mukherjee addresses prospects for medical advances in the treatment of diseases and in selecting or actively crafting the genetic composition of offspring, regularly pointing out the pressing ethical considerations. Throughout, he repeatedly poses the question, "What is natural'?" declining to offer a single answer, in recognition that both context and change are essential. By relating familial information, Mukherjee grounds the abstract in the personal to add power and poignancy to his excellent narrative.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Truly, A Masterpiece.
Just finished this book - it took a while, and I made lots of notes as well. A very engaging book for anyone who wants to read about the history of the gene and educate themselves on the mysteries and future of genetics. The massive depth and topics covered in this book are impressive to say the least - Mukherjee has expended so much time and energy into this project, and the end result is amazing. Very glad I read this book, and would like to learn more after reading. Thank you for this great book!!!