The Double Helix

  • by James D. Watson
  • Narrated by Grover Gardner, Roger Clark
  • 4 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

By identifying the structure of DNA, the molecule of life, Francis Crick and James Watson revolutionized biochemistry and won themselves a Nobel Prize. At the time, Watson was only 24, a young scientist hungry to make his mark. His uncompromisingly honest account of the heady days of their thrilling sprint against other world-class researchers to solve one of science's greatest mysteries gives a dazzlingly clear picture of a world of brilliant scientists with great gifts, very human ambitions, and bitter rivalries.
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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What the Critics Say

"A fascinating case history...Describes the events that led up to one of the great biological discoveries of our time." (The New York Times Book Review)
"The history of a scientific endeavor, a true detective story that leaves the reader breathless from beginning to end." (Scientific American)
"Watson's chronicle gives readers an idea of what living science is like, warts and all. The Double Helix is a startling window into the scientific method, full of insight and wit, and packed with the kind of science anecdotes that are told and retold in the halls of universities and laboratories everywhere. It's the stuff of legends." (Amazon.com review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.

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- Emma

A Fascinating real life story, and well written

The real life story of the discovery of the structure of DNA. Much more entertainingly written than might be expected of your average scientist, showing the all too human side of scientists with their range of foibles and character clashes.

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- James

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-08-2011
  • Publisher: Audible Studios