Saturday, November 19, 2022

Review of "The Double Helix," by James D. Watson


Review of

The Double Helix, by James D. Watson

Five out of five stars

Popular rendition of a scientific triumph

 Written in 1968, this book remains one of the best explanations of a scientific race for success and a near certain Nobel Prize. In the years immediately following the Second World War when scientists went back to working on non-military projects, one of the most outstanding questions was how genetic material could be reproduced in a nearly flawless way. Watson and his colleague Francis Crick were the first to elucidate the helical structure of DNA, winning out over some very talented rivals. This book is a popular explanation of their search, still engaging reading over a half-century later.

Watson demonstrates that he is a very good writer, giving minutiae when appropriate, including some of the personalities. It is a book that should be read by scientists in training, for it will help make them both humble and assertive. The only flaw is that Watson fails to give Rosalind Franklin her due credit. For it was her X-ray photograph of DNA that gave Watson and Crick the key insight to the structure of the complex DNA molecule.

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