Instaread Summary of The Gene An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Five out of five stars
This is a summary of the science of genetics, from how genes are stored and expressed to how that expression creates abnormalities and the problems can be treated. The explanations start with Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel, two of the pioneers of genetic understanding. Mendel developed numerical data that established the fundamental understanding of dominant and recessive genes and Darwin used observational data to argue that species change over time in adapting to their environments.
The real significance of the book is the more recent advancements in the understanding of genetics, specifically how certain genes are expressed in the organism. This is where it then becomes possible to effectively act on the knowledge of genetics, creating organisms that produce desired proteins as well as developing effective treatments for illnesses caused by faulty genes.
There is also coverage of how genetics has been misused by social organizations and governments. People considered genetically undesirable were sterilized and even euthanized in a misguided attempt to improve the human species.
There is great promise and great danger in the manipulation of genetic material. This summary can be considered a primer on both when the book is described.
This book was received for free for review purposes.