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The Secret of Life: Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and the Discovery of DNA's Double Helix

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James Watson and Francis Crick’s 1953 discovery of the double helix structure of DNA is the foundation of virtually every advance in our modern understanding of genetics and molecular biology. But how did Watson and Crick do it—and why were they the ones who succeeded? In truth, the discovery of DNA’s structure is the story of five towering minds in pursuit of the advanceme James Watson and Francis Crick’s 1953 discovery of the double helix structure of DNA is the foundation of virtually every advance in our modern understanding of genetics and molecular biology. But how did Watson and Crick do it—and why were they the ones who succeeded? In truth, the discovery of DNA’s structure is the story of five towering minds in pursuit of the advancement of science, and for almost all of them, the prospect of fame and immortality: Watson, Crick, Rosalind Franklin, Maurice Wilkins, and Linus Pauling. Each was fascinating and brilliant, with strong personalities that often clashed. Howard Markel skillfully re-creates the intense intellectual journey, and fraught personal relationships, that ultimately led to a spectacular breakthrough. But it is Rosalind Franklin—fiercely determined, relentless, and an outsider at Cambridge and the University of London in the 1950s, as the lone Jewish woman among young male scientists—who becomes a focal point for Markel. The Secret of Life is a story of genius and perseverance, but also a saga of cronyism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and misconduct. Drawing on voluminous archival research, including interviews with James Watson and with Franklin’s sister, Jenifer Glynn, Markel provides a fascinating look at how science is done, how reputations are undone, and how history is written, and revised. A vibrant evocation of Cambridge in the 1950s, Markel also provides colorful depictions of Watson and Crick—their competitiveness, idiosyncrasies, and youthful immaturity—and compelling portraits of Wilkins, Pauling, and most cogently, Rosalind Franklin. The Secret of Life is a lively and sweeping narrative of this landmark discovery, one that finally gives the woman at the center of this drama her due.


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James Watson and Francis Crick’s 1953 discovery of the double helix structure of DNA is the foundation of virtually every advance in our modern understanding of genetics and molecular biology. But how did Watson and Crick do it—and why were they the ones who succeeded? In truth, the discovery of DNA’s structure is the story of five towering minds in pursuit of the advanceme James Watson and Francis Crick’s 1953 discovery of the double helix structure of DNA is the foundation of virtually every advance in our modern understanding of genetics and molecular biology. But how did Watson and Crick do it—and why were they the ones who succeeded? In truth, the discovery of DNA’s structure is the story of five towering minds in pursuit of the advancement of science, and for almost all of them, the prospect of fame and immortality: Watson, Crick, Rosalind Franklin, Maurice Wilkins, and Linus Pauling. Each was fascinating and brilliant, with strong personalities that often clashed. Howard Markel skillfully re-creates the intense intellectual journey, and fraught personal relationships, that ultimately led to a spectacular breakthrough. But it is Rosalind Franklin—fiercely determined, relentless, and an outsider at Cambridge and the University of London in the 1950s, as the lone Jewish woman among young male scientists—who becomes a focal point for Markel. The Secret of Life is a story of genius and perseverance, but also a saga of cronyism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and misconduct. Drawing on voluminous archival research, including interviews with James Watson and with Franklin’s sister, Jenifer Glynn, Markel provides a fascinating look at how science is done, how reputations are undone, and how history is written, and revised. A vibrant evocation of Cambridge in the 1950s, Markel also provides colorful depictions of Watson and Crick—their competitiveness, idiosyncrasies, and youthful immaturity—and compelling portraits of Wilkins, Pauling, and most cogently, Rosalind Franklin. The Secret of Life is a lively and sweeping narrative of this landmark discovery, one that finally gives the woman at the center of this drama her due.

30 review for The Secret of Life: Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and the Discovery of DNA's Double Helix

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    In spring of 1968 I was sitting in my high school biology class listening to Mr. Gasiorowski explain the miracle of life. He was excited, transported, his face illuminated. He reverentially talked about James Watson and the discovery of the double helix. Sometime afterward, I found Watson’s book The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA on the shelf of the drug store I passed on my walk home from school and spent my meagre allowance to buy it. My teacher knew t In spring of 1968 I was sitting in my high school biology class listening to Mr. Gasiorowski explain the miracle of life. He was excited, transported, his face illuminated. He reverentially talked about James Watson and the discovery of the double helix. Sometime afterward, I found Watson’s book The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA on the shelf of the drug store I passed on my walk home from school and spent my meagre allowance to buy it. My teacher knew that the discovery marked a watershed moment. But Watson’s book was part mythos and novelized for effect. James Watson and Francis Crick were young and brilliant, two people in a race to discover the structure of the building blocks of what makes us what we are. Also in the race was “the world’s greatest living chemist,” Linus Pauling of the California Institute of Technology. Maurice Wilkens and Rosalind Franklin were at King’s College working “the old-fashioned, scientific way–with the slow work and steady accretion of data.” Pauling and Watson/Crick were on the wrong track; Pauling’s idea had a glaring flaw, and they were looking for a triple helix. James Watson, left, and Francis Crick, right, with the model of DNA Watson solved the dilemma only after he saw a xray of DNA taken by Franklin, shared without her knowledge. And he never properly accredited her work as contributing to his discovery. Now, Howard Markel writes, it is time to tell how it really happened. Franklin’s x-ray of DNA that inspired Watson The Secret of Life is filled with big personalities, flawed and eccentric. Inevitably, these scientists clashed over theory and they clashed personally. Rosalind Franklin was brilliant, dedicated to her work, committed to scientific facts, and “devastatingly blunt”. She worked in X-ray crystallography of DNA. As a Jewish female scientist she had everything stacked against her. She grated on Maurice Wilkins, “a bag of neuroses” who may have been in love with her and angry that she kept her distance. Rosalind Franklin at work Watson was impatient and clumsy; he didn’t do experiments but envisioned things in his head and then built a model. Crick was the mathematician with a “dazzling” grasp of biophysics. The two hit it off right away. Wilkens and Franklin were doing the bedrock of scientific research. Also in the race was the eccentric Pauling, who had helped create the Atom bomb and now wanted to contribute something monumentally positive to science. Watson and Crick’s structure explains everything. Linus Pauling quoted in The Secret of Life Markel follows the scientific advancement of understanding DNA, first with the history. Then, he follows the rivals in their research and their personal lives, showing all the steps in their understanding along the way. Watson and Crick won the acclaim for discovering the structure of DNA, forgetting to mention the x-ray that gave Watson the insight he needed. Franklin’s early death from cancer was likely caused from the radiation she was exposed to in her work. Before her death, she became close to Crick and she and Watson forgot their differences. Watson invited Wilkens to share in the prize, but not Franklin. “You don’t usually win the Nobel Prize for data you can’t interpret,” Watkins said to the author. But he also admitted his actions were not “exactly honorable.” Markel’s book is at once high drama and an explanation of the science that lead up to Watson’s ah-ha moment. I grasped the idea of the chemistry without understanding chemistry (chemistry was not one of my finer achievements in high school). It was a challenging read for me, but my interest was caught by the wonderful portraits of these personalities. I received a galley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sherrie

    ***I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway*** James Watson is a creep and a wanker and embodies everything that is wrong with the "old boys club" of elite science. Last I checked he's still alive, ruining everything, so I hope he reads this and realizes deep down in that black hole where his heart should be that he ain't shit. Facts is facts, Jim. Historians and scientists have debated for more than half a century now how the discovery of the double helix played out and I greatly appreciate the au ***I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway*** James Watson is a creep and a wanker and embodies everything that is wrong with the "old boys club" of elite science. Last I checked he's still alive, ruining everything, so I hope he reads this and realizes deep down in that black hole where his heart should be that he ain't shit. Facts is facts, Jim. Historians and scientists have debated for more than half a century now how the discovery of the double helix played out and I greatly appreciate the author for sticking to information that could be validated and using a logical and consistent approach to the story telling. When all the bluster and ego is tossed aside, the story is clear. All anyone had to do was talk to a scientist who happens to be a woman to understand. Was Rosalind Franklin a genius? Probably. Was she difficult to work with? PROBABLY. Have you ever met a genius that wasn't? The crux of the matter is that women in the hard sciences are not allowed to be difficult like the men are. The men around Rosalind's response to her personality is completely out of proportion to anything she supposedly said or did and that is what sexism is, kids. I found myself getting so angry as I recognized these behaviors...the dismissals, the strawman arguments, the "well if only she was nicer" bullshit...UGH. I can't change what happened in the 1950s. All I can do is continue to call out what an utter wanker and waste of skin men like James Watson are. Anyway, good book if you're into nerdy history and feminist rage.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Wenger

    "The Secret of Life is a story of genius and perseverance, but also a saga of cronyism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and misconduct. Drawing on voluminous archival research, including interviews with James Watson and with Franklin’s sister, Jenifer Glynn, Markel provides a fascinating look at how science is done, how reputations are undone, and how history is written, and revised." This quote from the publisher's description sums up the book nicely. It's more about personalities than about science, t "The Secret of Life is a story of genius and perseverance, but also a saga of cronyism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and misconduct. Drawing on voluminous archival research, including interviews with James Watson and with Franklin’s sister, Jenifer Glynn, Markel provides a fascinating look at how science is done, how reputations are undone, and how history is written, and revised." This quote from the publisher's description sums up the book nicely. It's more about personalities than about science, though science plays a huge role. As a woman, it was painful but unsurprising to read about how Franklin was abused and slandered by her male colleagues. Above all, this book elevates Franklin to the place she deserves. Her X-ray work likely cost her her life, but revealed the structure of DNA that led to Watson and Crick's Nobel Prize winning breakthrough. Her name belongs beside theirs for the rest of time. Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Fabulous - reads like a great who-done-it I absolutely loved this book. As a history of the discovery of the structure of DNA, it excels and is the best book I’ve read on the subject. I was already familiar with the story as I had studied biology and had read other books on the subject, particularly, “The Dark Lady of DNA” by Brenda Maddox. But Howard Markel’s excellent story-telling makes the story seem completely new. There is a lot of biographical information which I loved, because this story Fabulous - reads like a great who-done-it I absolutely loved this book. As a history of the discovery of the structure of DNA, it excels and is the best book I’ve read on the subject. I was already familiar with the story as I had studied biology and had read other books on the subject, particularly, “The Dark Lady of DNA” by Brenda Maddox. But Howard Markel’s excellent story-telling makes the story seem completely new. There is a lot of biographical information which I loved, because this story is not just about science; it’s about scientists and their shortcomings as humans. Some of the wording was so clever that I would re-read some of the passages. I did find however, that some knowledge of biology is required to get maximum benefit from the book. If I had to pick nits, they would be that some of the discussion around crystallography was too technical. And I felt that some of the quotes should have been paraphrased by Markel as the original quotes were not always clear. Overall, this is a fabulous book and is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of science. Thank you to Netgalley and W. W. Norton & Company for the advance reader copy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Linda Surritte

    To me this was a cross between a scientific magazine and 'Days of Our Lives'. There is a lot of technical info and a lot of interpersonal drama. I started getting a bit bored when I checked and found that I was only 13% through it. I kept going though. The actual book ended at 61% and the other 39% is a listing of supporting references. So, the main premise is that Rosalind Franklin did not get the credit due her because of discrimination within the scientific community. There was a lot of detai To me this was a cross between a scientific magazine and 'Days of Our Lives'. There is a lot of technical info and a lot of interpersonal drama. I started getting a bit bored when I checked and found that I was only 13% through it. I kept going though. The actual book ended at 61% and the other 39% is a listing of supporting references. So, the main premise is that Rosalind Franklin did not get the credit due her because of discrimination within the scientific community. There was a lot of detail about 'the guys' going out for drinks and dinner over and over. Just a strange book to me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Russell

    Though Markel's account of the race to discover the double helical structure of DNA moves at the pace of a good detective story, in the end I believe he makes too much of Watson & Crick's "theft" of Franklin's X-ray photographs of DNA molecules. While acknowledging that Maurice Wilkins, at the same college as Franklin, willingly and knowingly showed a photograph to the Cambridge scientists, Markel continues to treat this as some kind of intellectual dishonestly. The fact is that Franklin, and Wi Though Markel's account of the race to discover the double helical structure of DNA moves at the pace of a good detective story, in the end I believe he makes too much of Watson & Crick's "theft" of Franklin's X-ray photographs of DNA molecules. While acknowledging that Maurice Wilkins, at the same college as Franklin, willingly and knowingly showed a photograph to the Cambridge scientists, Markel continues to treat this as some kind of intellectual dishonestly. The fact is that Franklin, and Wilkins, had this photograph in their possession for a long time, and were simply unable to properly interpret it, while Watson and Crick immediately understood the implications, and used that evidence to construct an accurate model of DNA in a few weeks' time. Franklin herself acknowledged that all scientists stand on each other's shoulders, no more true than in this case. Too much is made of the fact that Franklin was not liked by any of the three Nobel winners, since they became at least cordial colleagues, and in one case close friends. All that beside, this is a very good history illuminating how science advances, in fits and starts, and never as cleanly as the hindsight view would lead us to believe.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Having read The Double Helix (a long time ago) and Brenda Maddox's biography of Rosalind Franklin (which I highly recommend), I didn't find any striking revelations in this book. It does give a broader picture than either, though, and I was especially interested in the portraits of Pauling, Chargaff, and Donohue. Oddly it doesn't actually say that much about Franklin; she remains a rather flat and opaque character. Probably the most novel thing in the book is the idea that there was an informal Having read The Double Helix (a long time ago) and Brenda Maddox's biography of Rosalind Franklin (which I highly recommend), I didn't find any striking revelations in this book. It does give a broader picture than either, though, and I was especially interested in the portraits of Pauling, Chargaff, and Donohue. Oddly it doesn't actually say that much about Franklin; she remains a rather flat and opaque character. Probably the most novel thing in the book is the idea that there was an informal conspiracy to deny Franklin's contribution to the double helix model of DNA during her lifetime. Then, of course, after her death it was open season on insults and backhanded compliments. Watson and Crick shafted a lot of people, including Franklin; the book makes it clear just how arrogant and insufferable they really were. But the real crime against Franklin, IMO, is Watson's theft of her legacy. Any discussion of Franklin or her work has to grapple with his grotesque portrait of her in The Double Helix and the lies he is still telling about her being "anti-helical." Watson seems to be remarkably touchy on the subject of Rosalind Franklin and his behavior toward her. But he has nobody to blame but himself for the fact that people continue to ask him about her. Unfortunately, some of Franklin's partisans make overblown claims about her, which doesn't do her any favors. Yes, Crick and Watson got access to her data in a sketchy way (without her knowledge or permission); yes, they failed to give her adequate credit for her contributions to their model; no, they did not steal the model from her. As Crick has said, and Klug's research confirms, she would have gotten there eventually, but she didn't actually have a model before they did. What she did do was remarkable enough; there's no need to embellish it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Tedious at times but reveals important details left out of the history books about the discovery of DNA including Rosalind Franklin’s vital role and the unethical and abhorrent actions of Jim Watson.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Toxic masculinity, professional jealousy and skulduggery. Recognising Rosalind Franklin’s contribution in the race to discover the structure of DNA.

  10. 4 out of 5

    BOOKLOVER EB

    In 1953, twenty-five-year-old James Watson, a brash American, and his British collaborator, thirty-seven-year-old Francis Crick, announced that they had created an accurate scale model of the double-helical structure of DNA. This breakthrough would earn the pair worldwide fame and, in 1962, Watson, Crick, and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transf In 1953, twenty-five-year-old James Watson, a brash American, and his British collaborator, thirty-seven-year-old Francis Crick, announced that they had created an accurate scale model of the double-helical structure of DNA. This breakthrough would earn the pair worldwide fame and, in 1962, Watson, Crick, and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material." Years earlier, a brilliant scientist, Rosalind Franklin, whose groundbreaking work helped Watson and Crick put the final pieces of the puzzle in place, died of cancer in 1958, when she was just thirty-seven. Watson and Crick were cagey about the fact that, without Franklin's knowledge or permission, they used her intellectual property to steer them in the right direction. "The Secret of Life" is Howard Markel's account of the competitiveness, failures and successes, and hours of toil and sacrifice that went into a race to the top of the scientific pyramid. Howard Markel is a physician with a PhD, and he is also a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan. In this well-researched, colorful, and enlightening book, he traces the study of genetics going back to the nineteenth century, when Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel conducted meticulous experiments with pea plants that would inspire others to investigate how certain traits are passed on from generation to generation. In addition, the author describes the personalities and motives of key individuals, such as Linus Pauling, who played a part in the race to discover the elegant configuration of DNA. "The Secret of Life" has a great deal of jargon that will mean little to most readers. One would need a basic knowledge of physics, chemistry, and biology to appreciate the nuances of Markel's scientific explanations. Those who lack such expertise may be intimidated by the in-depth discussions of such topics as x-ray crystallography, nucleotide bases, and hydrogen bonds. On the other hand, anyone can appreciate the passages dealing with the conflicts between Franklin, who did not suffer fools gladly, and the men who resented her for being a woman, Jewish, and in some cases, smarter than they were. Markel vividly describes Watson's eccentricities, racist views, and dishonesty; Crick's hyperactive personality; and the bitter enmity that existed between Maurice Wilkins and his prickly colleague, Rosalind Franklin. Wilkins and others would ultimately try to marginalize Franklin. Rosalind Franklin did not win the Nobel Prize (in most cases, this honor is not bestowed posthumously). However, despite the years of discrimination that she endured, she outshone many of her peers, thanks to her "exquisite experimental skills" and "her indomitable resolve to find the facts underpinning DNA's structure."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    I thoroughly enjoy this novel. The last time I took a science class was Biology in College and, of course, Biology in High School, but even with this limited background, I could still follow the writing. Markel is able to write and explain the information so well that you do not need to be an expert in the sciences to understand and enjoy this book. It is fantastically well written, and even though it is a nonfiction book, it isn't dry as one may expect from reading a book about history or scien I thoroughly enjoy this novel. The last time I took a science class was Biology in College and, of course, Biology in High School, but even with this limited background, I could still follow the writing. Markel is able to write and explain the information so well that you do not need to be an expert in the sciences to understand and enjoy this book. It is fantastically well written, and even though it is a nonfiction book, it isn't dry as one may expect from reading a book about history or science. I found myself devouring each page. Markel is able to bring to life "the secret of life" (pun intended) through Markel's beautiful storytelling. I could not help but be engulfed in this story that when I finally saw photograph No 51, I couldn't help but get teary eyes, after reading about this journal to see it, this magnificent, significant discovery. You can quickly tell how much work and research Markel conducted to write this brilliant book. Markel shows you the complete picture of the discovery of DNA, showing the strengths and weaknesses of the key players and others who played a role in the race to the discovery. Additionally, he showcases Rosalind Frankin's vital role in discovering DNA's double helix and, through thoughtful observation and research, explains why she was not recognized in her time. This book is not just for science lovers or history lovers but for every reader to know the history of the discovery and learn some of the science of the blueprint we all have. Disclosure: I received a free book copy from a Goodreads giveaway. The review and opinions are my own

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mary Pilkington

    Very interesting and detailed telling of the discovery of the structure of DNA. Most 2nd level biology students will have heard of James Watson and Francis Crick but fewer will remember Rosalind Franklin without whose painstaking collection of experimental data the structure would never have come to light. This book seeks to rectify that by demonstrating just how important her work was. Another interesting aspect of the book is the bringing together of a wide plethora of scientists, famous and n Very interesting and detailed telling of the discovery of the structure of DNA. Most 2nd level biology students will have heard of James Watson and Francis Crick but fewer will remember Rosalind Franklin without whose painstaking collection of experimental data the structure would never have come to light. This book seeks to rectify that by demonstrating just how important her work was. Another interesting aspect of the book is the bringing together of a wide plethora of scientists, famous and not so, who all had a valuable contribution to make. About a third of the way in though it seemed to get bogged down in detail starting with Watson’s attempt to get to Cambridge. I’m not sure what this added to the discussion apart from some confusion, on my part at least. At around this point there was also an emphasis placed on Franklin’s physical appearance and dress sense. While I am sure the author had loads of documented evidence that this played a role at the time I’m not sure it was needed in 2021. The misogynist attidutes of her colleagues was all too obvious in their treatment of her work. Watson was also the cause of some disparaging remarks with regard to his physical appearance in his later years and again don’t think it was necessary. Despite those slight misgivings this is well worth a read for anyone interested in scientific research and the efforts required to get answers to our most searching questions. Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for this ARC.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

    This is the book I've been waiting for as a scientist. The discovery of the structure of DNA is something that's been repeated to me throughout each increment of my education. Occasionally Rosalind Franklin would be mentioned, albeit infrequently & briefly, and as I became older it began to be more of a bug-bear, the fact that the credit for the discovery went to two men, who in reality stole data & the credit from Rosalind herself. Despite this, the book hinges more on the personalities of thos This is the book I've been waiting for as a scientist. The discovery of the structure of DNA is something that's been repeated to me throughout each increment of my education. Occasionally Rosalind Franklin would be mentioned, albeit infrequently & briefly, and as I became older it began to be more of a bug-bear, the fact that the credit for the discovery went to two men, who in reality stole data & the credit from Rosalind herself. Despite this, the book hinges more on the personalities of those involved & the intricacies and interactions between them. I'd say this is a must read for anyone who wants to learn more about what happened between these scientists. Having said this, I do think some biology knowledge or a fond liking for wikipedia is necessary to get the most from this, as in some places the language can get quite technical, particularly where the x-ray crystallography is concerned.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Terrific read. Can't put it down. The chemistry and physics details are there if you care to understand them but don't get in the way if you want to gloss over them and skip to his explanation of the science. He's very clear on what each of the investigators knew and when they knew it. Howard is also very good at articulating exactly what motivates and informs the questions each actor was using to frame their research. He doesn't shy away from assessing relationships and personality attributes a Terrific read. Can't put it down. The chemistry and physics details are there if you care to understand them but don't get in the way if you want to gloss over them and skip to his explanation of the science. He's very clear on what each of the investigators knew and when they knew it. Howard is also very good at articulating exactly what motivates and informs the questions each actor was using to frame their research. He doesn't shy away from assessing relationships and personality attributes and he back up his assertions with evidence. It's surprising to realize how much you DON'T know about such a familiar subject. Good stuff.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Thank you to NetGalley and W. W. Norton & Company for an e-copy of Howard Markel's The Secret of Life. This book was clearly well researched and extremely thorough in recounting the intriguing tale of how scientists cracked the code of DNA. Markel blends an informative account of the science behind DNA's structural discovery with the compelling and complex interplay between the scientists involved in the race to make the great discovery. I would highly recommend for lovers of medical history and Thank you to NetGalley and W. W. Norton & Company for an e-copy of Howard Markel's The Secret of Life. This book was clearly well researched and extremely thorough in recounting the intriguing tale of how scientists cracked the code of DNA. Markel blends an informative account of the science behind DNA's structural discovery with the compelling and complex interplay between the scientists involved in the race to make the great discovery. I would highly recommend for lovers of medical history and narrative nonfiction!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Easily one of the best STEM books I’ve read in a while. And it’s great to get another side of the story after reading Watson’s sometimes (often) shocking The Double Helix. Rosalind Franklin was an amazing scientist and a fascinating person. The physics and math required to unlock the biological secret of DNA is fascinating as well; to think such things could be concluded from such abstruse photographs!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    Excellent book. I've always been curious about the discovery of the structure of DNA. This book covers it very well. I learned about all the scientists involved in the race to be the first to figure it out and the processes they used. I was also surprised to see the name of Salvadore Luria as one of the scientists. He was the instructor of my Virus class at the University of Illinois in the 1950s! Excellent book. I've always been curious about the discovery of the structure of DNA. This book covers it very well. I learned about all the scientists involved in the race to be the first to figure it out and the processes they used. I was also surprised to see the name of Salvadore Luria as one of the scientists. He was the instructor of my Virus class at the University of Illinois in the 1950s!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eloise

    A very detailed read that finally gives Rosalind Franklin the kudos she deserves. She had two strikes against her in the 'old boys club' of the 1950's: a female, Jewish scientist. She excelled at her research, and her X-ray diffraction picture was usurped by James Watson and Francis Crick without her knowledge. This was the final piece of the puzzle to the structure of DNA for which Watson and Crick, along with Maurice Wilkens, received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Medicine. A very detailed read that finally gives Rosalind Franklin the kudos she deserves. She had two strikes against her in the 'old boys club' of the 1950's: a female, Jewish scientist. She excelled at her research, and her X-ray diffraction picture was usurped by James Watson and Francis Crick without her knowledge. This was the final piece of the puzzle to the structure of DNA for which Watson and Crick, along with Maurice Wilkens, received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I could not put it down. I knew that Rosalind Franklin got screwed in the race to discover the structure of DNA. Now I know the whys and hows. She was not Miss Congeniality. And she made errors in her research. They all did. Regardless, the men in the room treated her badly out of jealousy, misogyny an anti-Semitism. James Watson reveals himself once more as the least likeable of the crew. Rosalind gets her due in a remarkable book,

  20. 5 out of 5

    Pcox

    Tough in a man's world back then especially and given the distance to communicate and make your perspective known. Tough in a man's world back then especially and given the distance to communicate and make your perspective known.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tanya Hansen

    A little above my science level at times but a thrilling read none-the-less. You have to really want to know the story since it is a long book to read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    An absolutely fascinating story about the quest to understand genetics and DNA. A perfect book club book, I'm very much looking forward to sharing it with my Nonfiction Book Club! An absolutely fascinating story about the quest to understand genetics and DNA. A perfect book club book, I'm very much looking forward to sharing it with my Nonfiction Book Club!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael S Berke

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bonita L.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Oriana Fisher

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bernard J.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Virginia Seymour

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joanne J

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jodie

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