The Gene: An intimate history

Wed 13 March 2019 by Thejaswi Puthraya

Very few authors have the capability of successfully explaining science to the layperson. Siddhartha Mukherjee is one of them. His previous book, "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer", brought out cancer onto our coffee tables and this brings genetics. Like in his book on cancer, the author starts with a story, here it is familial - with uncles being affected by mental diseases that are later discovered to be genetic.

Then he traces the history of scientists and how they stumbled upon the gene and how it drives almost every aspect of our life. Phase by phase, milestone by milestone he documents the developments in genetics without getting into too many technical details. And he concludes the book with the moral conundrum if humans should get into editing genes (eugenics) to build a better self.