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Genome
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About the Author

Matt Ridley is the author of books that have sold well over a million copies in 32 languages: THE RED QUEEN, THE ORIGINS OF VIRTUE, GENOME, NATURE VIA NURTURE, FRANCIS CRICK, THE RATIONAL OPTIMIST, THE EVOLUTION OF EVERYTHING, and HOW INNOVATION WORKS. In his bestseller GENOME and in his biography of Francis Crick, he showed an ability to translate the details of genomic discoveries into understandable and exciting stories. During the current pandemic, he has written essays for the Wall Street Journal and The Spectator about the origin and genomics of the virus. His most recent WSJ piece appeared on January 16, 2021. He is a member of the House of Lords in the UK.

Reviews

Written in 23 chapters corresponding to the 23 pairs of chromosomes comprising the human genome, this is an engrossing account of the genetic history of our species. Each chapter focuses on a newly discovered gene on each chromosome, tracing its genetic contribution to such areas as human intelligence, personality, sexual behavior, and susceptibility to disease. Ridley (The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature) is a zoologist-turned-science writer. As the Human Genome Project nears completion (the first findings are expected to be released February 2000), this book will be particularly relevant to lay readers, providing insight into how far we have come and where we are heading in the understanding of our genetic heritage. Recommended for public and academic libraries.--Leila Fernandez, Steacie Science Lib., York Univ., Toronto Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

HSoon we'll know what's in our genes: next year, the Human Genome Project will have its first-draft map of our 23 chromosomes. Ridley (The Red Queen; The Origins of Virtue) anticipates the genomic news with an inventively constructed, riveting exposition of what we already know about the links between DNA and human life. His inviting prose proposes "to tell the story of the human genome... chromosome by chromosome, by picking a gene from each." That story begins with the basis of life on earth, the DNA-to-RNA-to-protein process (chapter one, "Life," and also chromosome one); the evolution of Homo sapiens (chromosome two, which emerged in early hominids when two ape chromosomes fused); and the discovery of genetic inheritance (which came about in part thanks to the odd ailment called alkaptonuria, carried on chromosome three). Some facts about your life depend entirely on a single gene--for example, whether you'll get the dreadful degenerative disease Huntington's chorea, and if so, at what age (chromosome four, hence chapter four: "Fate"). But most facts about you are products of pleiotropy, "multiple effects of multiple genes," plus the harder-to-study influences of culture and environment. (One asthma-related gene--but only one--hangs out on chromosome five.) The brilliant "whistle-stop tour of some... sites in the genome" passes through "Intelligence," language acquisition, embryology, aging, sex and memory before arriving at two among many bugbears surrounding human genetic mapping: the uses and abuses of genetic screening, and the ongoing debate on "genetic determinism" and free will. Ridley can explain with equal verve difficult moral issues, philosophical quandaries and technical biochemistry; he distinguishes facts from opinions well, and he's not shy about offering either. Among many recent books on genes, behavior and evolution, Ridley's is one of the most informative. It's also the most fun to read. Agent, Felicity Bryan. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"A fascinating tour of the human genome...If you want to catch a glimpse of the biotech century that is now dawning...GENOME is an excellent place to start."--Wall Street Journal
"A jargon-free excursion of intellectual discovery that will carry any reader along its tour of exciting, often delightful, stories structured to help us understand in everyday terms, and to remember, the revelations about genetic evolution that have come to light in the last few decades. It also makes us see the enormous social and political consequences of that knowledge."--New York Times Book Review
"A lucid and exhilarating romp through our 23 human chromosomes that lets us see how nature and nature combine to make us human."--James Watson
"A superb writer whose exquisite, often moving descriptions of life's designs remind me of the best work of the late Lewis Thomas. . . . He crafts some of the clearest explanations of complex biological processes that I have encountered. . . . He captures their slippery beauty."--Washington Post Book World
"A tour de force: clear, witty, timely, and informed by an intelligence that sees new knowledge as a blessing and not a curse."--London Times
"An engrossing account of the genetic history of our species. . . . This book will be particularly relevant to lay readers, providing insight into how far we have come and where we are heading in the understanding of our genetic heritage.--Library Journal
"An extraordinarily nimble synthesist, Ridley leaps from chromosome to chromosome in a handy summation of our ever increasing understanding of the roles that genes play in disease, behavior, sexual differences, and even intelligence. . . . . He addresses not only the ethical quandaries faced by contemporary scientists but the reductionist danger in equating inheritability with inevitability."--The New Yorker
"Matt Ridley [writes] with a combination of biblical awe, scientific curiosity and wit about what many consider the greatest scientific breakthrough of the 20th century and the greatest technological challenge of the 21st: the discovery of the molecular basis of life and its many applications in medicine, law, and commerce."--Dallas Morning News
"Ridley can explain with equal verve difficult moral issues, philosophical quandaries and technical biochemistry; he distinguishes facts from opinions well, and he's not shy about offering either. Among many recent books on genes, behavior and evolution, Ridley's is one of the most informative. It's also the most fun to read."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Ridley is a lucid, engaging and enthusiastic guide to the double-helical DNA that comprises our inheritable human essence."--Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Thoroughly fascinating. . . . A sophisticated blending of science and public policy certain to educate, entertain, challenge and stimulate even the least technologically inclined reader."--Philadelphia Inquirer
"With riveting anecdotes, clever analogies and compelling writing, Matt Ridley makes the human genome come alive for us. I was left in awe at the wonder of the human body, and the scientists who unravel its mysteries."--Abraham Verghese, author of The Tennis Partner

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