In 1953 Watson and Crick discovered the double helical structure of DNA and Watson's personal account of the discovery, The Double Helix, was published in 1968. Genes, Girls and Gamow is also autobiographical, covering the period from when The Double Helix ends, in 1953, to a few years later, and ending with a Postscript bringing the story up to date. Here is Watson adjusting to new-found fame, carrying out tantalizing experiments on the role of RNA in biology, and falling in love. The book is enlivened with copies of handwritten letters from the larger than life character George Gamow, who had made significant contributions to physics but became intrigued by genes, RNA and the elusive genetic code. This is a tale of heartbreak, scientific excitement and ambition, laced with travelogue and '50s atmosphere.
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(196mm x 128mm x 18mm)
Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
After winning the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the structure of DNA, young Jim Watson expected the girls to swoon over him. When they didn't, he set about pursuing them instead - with some hilarious consequences. This may not sound like the sort of autobiography you'd expect from one of the world's top scientists, but then Watson is a man of many surprises. The first part of his autobiography, The Double Helix, was published to worldwide acclaim in 1968. Watson told how, in his early 20s and barely out of Cambridge University, he and a few mates made the scientific discovery that revolutionised 20th-century science. It was a book full of humour and warmth - a galaxy removed from any previous scientist's writing. The formula in this belated follow-up is similar, telling of Jim's further scientific discoveries, his monumental blunders and his preoccupation with the opposite sex. The story resumes in 1953, where The Double Helix ended, and brings us forward to the present. Watson's diary format allows him to pour in all the intimacies that preoccupied a 20-something celebrity in the 1950s. There is plenty of science, some of it almost as complex as DNA although Watson does his best to demystify it; but the real gems come in his personal anecdotes of practical jokes, faux pas and friendships with some off-the-wall but likeable characters (that is where Gamow of the book's title comes in). The illustrations include many letters of the not-so-serious kind, and documents that show Watson was still making brilliant scientific progress despite his seemingly insouciant attitude. Nowadays Watson is engaged in cancer research and you wouldn't bet against him making another great discovery. If he does, you can't help thinking he'll have a whale of a time in the process. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - James D. Watson
In 1953, while working at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University, James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helical structure of DNA. For their discovery they, with Maurice Wilkins, were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Watson was appointed to the faculty at Harvard University in 1956. In 1968, while retaining his position at Harvard, he became director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). In 1988 he was appointed as associate director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) to help launch the Human Genome Program. A year later he became the first director of the National Center for Human Genome Research at the NIH, a position he held until 1992. In 1994 Watson became president of CSHL, the position he holds today.