The Gene: An Intimate History, Siddhartha Mukherjee, 2016
How to summarize a 592 page book about a complex scientific, ethical, and political topic? Suffice it to say that this book is a staggering accomplishment. The sub-title refers to the author’s story about his own family, beset with three generations of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as an example of the heritable and/or inherited nature of so many human conditions. Mukherjee takes the reader through the history of man’s struggles to understand our nature from Aristotle to Mendel, from Darwin to Craig Venter. I was stunned to learn how much had been learned after my own immersion in the science of genetics in the 1970’s, and despite my medical background, I often found myself confused and struggling to understand the science behind gene sequencing, gene modification, etc. Despite those occasional confused moments, this is a book that should be read by anyone with an interest in science, in genetics, and in the upcoming debates about the modification of the human genome enabled by the new technology of CRISPR. A superb book.