The book, narrated almost entirely by Grover Gardner, traces the team's work on DNA at the Cavendish Laboratory in England in 1953, when Watson was in his early 20s. He and Crick raced frantically against other researchers – most notably Linus Pauling – in an effort to illuminate the structure of DNA, and thereby shed light on the genetics of all life. Watson doesn't shy away from using scientific terms, but Gardner's straightforward reading makes even the most complicated experiments easy to follow. And while the book's original release inspired controversy from scientists who didn't agree with Watson's version of events, Gardner gives Watson's voice all the excitement, passion, and dedication you'd expect from a young scientist on the verge of one of the world's greatest discoveries.
Roger Clark lends his elegant tenor to the book's afterward, written by Sir Lawrence Bragg --the youngest Nobel winner in history - who offers a scientist's take on Watson's memories. Bragg points out that The Double Helix is a record of "impressions, not facts" but he gets to the heart of what makes this memoir so appealing when he reminds us that few scientific books are as fresh and direct as Watson's – which is something your ninth grade science teacher would no doubt agree with. —Blythe Copeland
With humility unspoiled by false modesty, Watson relates his and Crick's desperate efforts to beat Linus Pauling to the Holy Grail of life sciences: the identification of the basic building block of life. Never has a scientist been so truthful in capturing in words the flavor of his work.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By K. Rumph on 06-10-17
Brisk and interesting
Interesting as much for its depiction of the scientific life and culture of the times, as for the multi faceted nature of scientific discovery. You don’t really need to understand the science as long as the words molecule or helix aren’t baffling.
By Emma on 01-12-15
This is truly science :)
What made the experience of listening to The Double Helix the most enjoyable?
This is such a funny, honest (or too modest) recollection of how a major scientific achievement was conceived in the early 50s. It is a rare glimpse into the real world of scientific struggle. For once with the most happy ending :)
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Yes! And being quite a short book, I almost managed :) I normally listen during my commute (2 hrs per day), but didn't want to turn this off so kept making up tasks at work where I could listen and still work :)
Any additional comments?
Not sure how this would hold up for someone without a research background themselves. The facts are probably well enough explained to understand without a degree in chemistry/biology. But do have a listen and see if it enchants you anyway! If nothing else, you will have a quite good idea of what personalities exists in academic research (independent of research topic I would imagine) and how the everyday struggles of science and then the realisation you are onto something cool impact the researcher's life.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By A. Lai on 04-03-12
I have always been fascinated by the story of the discovery of DNA, but this book far exceeded my expectations. Although I am not a scienctist, this book presented the key scientific aspects of the research in a way that I easily understood them. More importantly, though, I enjoyed hearing about the various personalities that were involved in one way or another with the scientists. The narration was outstanding! It was a perfect match to the subject matter. I am so grateful that Watson wrote this book. It's a great contribution to science and the world.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
By David on 08-11-12
Humorous account of the double helix discovery
I was a biochem major in college and loved genetics so I thought this would be a nice history lesson, which it was. It was also a very good story, with very funny stories and comments by the younger member of the team to discover the double helix structure of DNA. It details the rivalries, trials and frustrations over a 2 year period and is well worth the 4 hour listen. Enjoy!!!
9 of 9 people found this review helpful