The Gene: An Intimate History – Book Review

Author: Siddhartha Mukherjee
Publisher: SCRIBNER, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Copyright: 2016, ISBN: 1476733500
Cover: Jaya Micelli
Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, April 3, 2017




Summary: Incredible reading adventure into the emergence of genetics as a science. The history, the methods, the people.

Author Siddhartha Mukherjee starts THE GENE with a description of his 2012 trip to Calcutta to visit his cousin Moni. He describes the circumstances surrounding the eventual diagnosis of his uncle, Rajesh, with bipolar disorder. Throughout the book, Mukherjee continues the saga of his extended family and his uncle. By the end of the book we understand why he started where he started and why he ended the book the way he did. Between the beginning and, there is a lucid, informative and clear discussion of the history of genetics. When you really ponder that history, when you work through all the twists and turns of how biology and physics converged surrounding the subject of genes, the book is more a history of humankind’s attitude toward itself.

For a discussion thread regarding genetics in your everyday life, an excellent starting place is an equally riveting though short saga of the website 23andMe. 23andMe once provided an individual’s complete genome along with probability or chance estimates of gene expression. This was a mistake.

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