We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code | [Sam Kean]

The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code

From New York Times best-selling author Sam Kean come more incredible stories of science, history, language, and music, as told by our own DNA. There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes illuminate everything from JFK's bronze skin (it wasn't a tan) to Einstein's genius. They prove that Neanderthals and humans bred thousands of years more recently than any of us would feel comfortable thinking.
Regular Price:$25.49
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

From New York Times best-selling author Sam Kean come more incredible stories of science, history, language, and music, as told by our own DNA.

In The Disappearing Spoon, best-selling author Sam Kean unlocked the mysteries of the periodic table. In The Violinist's Thumb, he explores the wonders of the magical building block of life: DNA.

There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes illuminate everything from JFK's bronze skin (it wasn't a tan) to Einstein's genius. They prove that Neanderthals and humans bred thousands of years more recently than any of us would feel comfortable thinking. They can even allow some people, because of the exceptional flexibility of their thumbs and fingers, to become truly singular violinists.

Kean's vibrant storytelling once again makes science entertaining, explaining human history and whimsy while showing how DNA will influence our species' future.

©2012 Sam Kean; ©2012 Hachette Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (310 )
5 star
 (112)
4 star
 (127)
3 star
 (54)
2 star
 (15)
1 star
 (2)
Overall
4.0 (264 )
5 star
 (102)
4 star
 (95)
3 star
 (48)
2 star
 (15)
1 star
 (4)
Story
4.2 (260 )
5 star
 (113)
4 star
 (97)
3 star
 (38)
2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (1)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Jeffrey Herndon, Virginia, United States 02-25-13
    Jeffrey Herndon, Virginia, United States 02-25-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "No option to hear the notes"
    Where does The Violinist's Thumb rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book's included contents is very good with the exception that it is abridged as the notes for this book were rather informative and their excise was a great loss.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Paul Kammerer


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Epigenetics


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Too long for that, but yeah, it'd have been nice.


    Any additional comments?

    I never had time to read the notes so I feel I missed something.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel YAKIMA, WA, United States 11-29-12
    Rachel YAKIMA, WA, United States 11-29-12 Member Since 2009

    I am a clay sculptor and an art instructor at a community college. I mostly listen to audiobooks while I work in my home studio.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    89
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    130
    77
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Highly recommended"

    I quite enjoyed this story. I'm a teacher, so I don't get to listen often during the academic year, but this book had me listening avidly while getting ready for work, on my way home and in all the little moments in between other obligations

    The story was very interesting and full of bits of information and anecdotes and stories I didn't already know. I enjoyed Kean's last book, The Disappearing Spoon, and this one is at least as good. I've read a reasonably good amount of popular science books on heredity and biology, but this one was fresh and accessible with a wealth of fascinating information.

    Good narration. I highly recommend it. And I wan't to read more like this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan FRANKLIN, VA, United States 11-01-12
    Susan FRANKLIN, VA, United States 11-01-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Most Congressmen don't know where their genes are!"

    A leading geneticist addressing congress began his talk by asking the assembly where they thought their genes were. Their answers seemed to indicate they had no idea. One person guessed in the brain someone else suggested in the gonads. You might remember from your high school biology class that genes are in cells so yes there are genes in your brain and everywhere else in the body. The scary thing is that the people responsible for making decisions about the patent-ability of genes and genomes don't seem to understand the basics about genes or genetics. While not the most entertaining anecdote in the book, it was one that stuck with me in this election year.

    Thanks to Sam Kean's book you don't have to be like a member of Congress. You can learn all about genes in this entertaining and informative book. Learn about gene mutation and why inbreeding is a bad idea. Discover how our genetic code indicates that human beings almost went extinct. Be astonished by the amount of virus DNA each human contains and why the whole idea of an Arian master race is not just racist, its unscientific.

    Kean's book really is entertaining. The book abounds in both educational facts and useless but entertaining information. Who knew Gregor Mendel was not just a monk but became a cigar smoking abbot who was so fat he had a difficult time working in his garden. After I listened to the book I may not have mastered the science behind genetics, but I do have a better understanding of DNA, RNA and how it makes me the person I grew up to be. It's pretty fascinating stuff.



    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Sader Toledo, OH USA 09-11-12
    Jennifer Sader Toledo, OH USA 09-11-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    46
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating science read"

    This book uses stories to illustrate the history and current understanding of genetics. I first heard about this book on Radio Lab, and this book uses the same kind of narrative style to engage listeners in serious science through compelling mysteries and human dramas. I would recommend it to other amateur science geeks.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fredrick L. 09-29-12
    Fredrick L. 09-29-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    24
    24
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Where is Carl Sagan when you need him?"
    What did you like best about The Violinist's Thumb? What did you like least?

    Though science interests me, I find books -- even the ones that try to explain things "simply" -- fall short of their goal. This is another case of a topic that grabbed my attention, but the writing and narrative were less than understandable. I listen to most audiobooks while driving. This one certainly doesn't lend itself to that. You have to listen closely, then replay parts, then listen, then replay. In then end, it is just a disappointment.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nancyshrode escondido, CA, United States 08-27-12
    nancyshrode escondido, CA, United States 08-27-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    40
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "sort of like reading text book"

    Although there are some interesting facts, this is about as interesting as reading a text book

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Mountain West 08-15-12
    Amazon Customer Mountain West 08-15-12 Member Since 2005

    Audiobook enthusiast

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    296
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Worth two listens"
    Would you listen to The Violinist's Thumb again? Why?

    I don't think I have ever read a book twice, and I certainly have not listened to a book twice, but in this case I will make an exception. "The Disappearing Spoon" was a delightful compendium of intriguing scientific anecdotes, but "The Violinist's Thumb" is so rich with truly remarkable information, that I have to listen again.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Violinist's Thumb?

    Kean's description of the research into our DNA as it relates to our fellow primates is probably the most fascinating part of the book, particularly as the news continues to contain new discoveries on the human family tree.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    08-15-12
    08-15-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    152
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting, but not as quirky as you might like"
    If you could sum up The Violinist's Thumb in three words, what would they be?

    Interesting detailed scientific


    Would you be willing to try another book from Sam Kean? Why or why not?

    Yes. I enjoyed his book about the periodic table more, but The Violinist's Thumb was worth a listen.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. It's very episodic. Great for short car rides.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 08-05-12
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 08-05-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    558
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    450
    342
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    250
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "well written, but not quite understandable"

    High energy narration, and a lot of time spent on exactly how the humane genome works.....but I just couldn't follow it. The good news, is that sprinkled through the book are a few interesting stories about people and places, ranging from Paganini to Japan, just after the nuclear strikes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Athens, AL, USA 09-03-12
    Michael Athens, AL, USA 09-03-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    95
    36
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "If your into the history of Chromosomes - Great"
    Would you try another book from Sam Kean and/or Henry Leyva?

    How do you make the history of the men who studied genes and chromosomes interesting? At least, how do you make it interesting to those who don't care? Besides a few historical tidbits about people I never heard of, this book isn't.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-20 of 22 results PREVIOUS123NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.