The Gene: Book summary and reviews of The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Gene

An Intimate History

by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee X
The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee

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Book Summary

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies - a magnificent history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: What becomes of being human when we learn to "read" and "write" our own genetic information?

The extraordinary Siddhartha Mukherjee has a written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant, and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer. Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.

Throughout the narrative, the story of Mukherjee's own family - with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness - cuts like a bright, red line, reminding us of the many questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In superb prose and with an instinct for the dramatic scene, 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.

As The New Yorker said of The Emperor of All Maladies, "It's hard to think of many books for a general audience that have rendered any area of modern science and technology with such intelligence, accessibility, and compassion…An extraordinary achievement." Riveting, revelatory, and magisterial history of a scientific idea coming to life, and an essential preparation for the moral complexity introduced by our ability to create or "write" the human genome, The Gene is a must-read for everyone concerned about the definition and future of humanity. This is the most crucial science of our time, intimately explained by a master.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Mukherjee deftly relates the basic scientific facts about the way genes are believed to function, while making clear the aspects of genetics that remain unknown. He offers insight into both the scientific process and the sociology of science... [an] excellent narrative." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Compelling... Highly recommended."- Booklist

"Starred Review. Sobering, humbling, and extraordinarily rich reading from a wise and gifted writer who sees how far we have come—but how much farther far we have to go to understand our human nature and destiny." - Kirkus

"This is perhaps the greatest detective story ever told—a millennia-long search, led by a thousand explorers, from Aristotle to Mendel to Francis Collins, for the question marks at the center of every living cell...If you're interested in what it means to be human, today and in the tomorrows to come, you must read this book." - Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See

"The Gene is a magnificent synthesis of the science of life, and forces all to confront the essence of that science as well as the ethical and philosophical challenges to our conception of what constitutes being human." - Paul Berg, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

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Author Information

Siddhartha Mukherjee Author Biography

Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer and The Gene: An Intimate History, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, and The Laws of Medicine. He is the editor of Best Science Writing 2013.

Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician and researcher. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Times, and Cell. He lives in New York with his wife and daughters.

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