Monday, August 29, 2016
My most recent completed Norton Critical Edition is The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James Watson. Watson, along with his partner Francis Crick, discovered the molecular structure of DNA and thus unlocked the mystery of how genetic information is transmitted. What makes The Double Helix worth reading is that it's far from a dry science text. It's far more in the vein of a memoir of a uncouth American's time in England, a frantic race to be first and achieve virtual immortality, and how scientific research is far from the cold and dispassionate search for truth that is still commonly held. There's still plenty of scientific discussion that was way over my head, but it was worth powering through. The Norton Critical Edition includes some interesting essays on the controversy the book created because of the unflattering way Watson portrayed key figures in the story, and also includes contemporary book reviews and other discussions of the legacy of the achievement (though my edition is from 1980).