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The Gene An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Gene An Intimate History

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Shortlisted for the Royal Society Science Book Prize 2016.

Spanning the globe and several centuries, this is the story of the quest to decipher the master-code that makes and defines humans, that governs our form and function. Majestic in its ambition, and unflinching in its honesty, The Gene gives us a definitive account of the fundamental unit of heredity - and a vision of both humanity's past and future.


The Gene An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Spanning the globe and several centuries, The Gene is the story of the quest to decipher the master-code that makes and defines humans, that governs our form and function. The story of the gene begins in an obscure Augustinian abbey in Moravia in 1856 where a monk stumbles on the idea of a 'unit of heredity'. It intersects with Darwin's theory of evolution, and collides with the horrors of Nazi eugenics in the 1940s. The gene transforms post-war biology. It reorganizes our understanding of sexuality, temperament, choice and free will. This is a story driven by human ingenuity and obsessive minds - from Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel to Francis Crick, James Watson and Rosalind Franklin, and the thousands of scientists still working to understand the code of codes. This is an epic, moving history of a scientific idea coming to life, by the author of The Emperor of All Maladies. But woven through The Gene, like a red line, is also an intimate history - the story of Mukherjee's own family and its recurring pattern of mental illness, reminding us that genetics is vitally relevant to everyday lives. These concerns reverberate even more urgently today as we learn to read and write the human genome - unleashing the potential to change the fates and identities of our children.


'The Gene is prodigious, sweeping, and ultimately transcendent. 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, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See

'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

About the Author

Siddhartha Mukherjee

Siddhartha Mukherjee M.D., Ph.D., is a cancer physician and researcher. He is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician at the CU/NYU Presbyterian Hospital. A Rhodes Scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and from Harvard Medical School and was a Fellow at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and an attending physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, Neuron, the Journal of Clinical Investigation, The New York Times, and The New Republic. He lives in New York with his wife and daughter.

Author photo © Deborah Feingold

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd June 2016


Siddhartha Mukherjee

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The Bodley Head Ltd an imprint of Vintage Publishing


608 pages


Popular Science
The Real World
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites

Popular science
Genetics (non-medical)
History of science
Impact of science & technology on society
Genetic engineering
Ethical issues: scientific & technological developments



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