Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

Author: James Watson

First line: I have never seen Francis Crick in a modest mood.

Why you should read this book: Chief among the earliest works of science as dramatic thriller, Watson's story of his youthful pursuit of fame in the form of a Nobel Prize for the discovery of the structure of DNA is a fast-paced tumble seen through the eyes of an energetic and self-confident American enthralled with the culture of Cambridge and its profusion of pretty girls as well as his own burgeoning understanding of life. Acknowledging the contributions of his partner, Francis Crick, as well as their colleagues Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin, and their great rival, the famous Linus Pauling, Watson illustrates every step in the furious race to the prize. Although Watson is opinionated and often critical of ideas, individuals, and attitudes that rub him the wrong way on a personal or scientific level, his voice is honest in that it reflects the prejudices and beliefs of the man he was in the 1950s, when he conducted the research.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Delicate readers may feel the weight of Watson's prodigious ego crushing their very souls as they read.

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