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Publisher's Summary

A trailblazing biologist grapples with her role in the biggest scientific discovery of our era: a cheap, easy way of rewriting genetic code, with nearly limitless promise and peril.

Not since the atomic bomb has a technology so alarmed its inventors that they warned the world about its use. Not, that is, until the spring of 2015, when biologist Jennifer Doudna called for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the new gene-editing tool CRISPR - a revolutionary new technology that she helped create - to make heritable changes in human embryos. The cheapest, simplest, most effective way of manipulating DNA ever known, CRISPR may well give us the cure to HIV, genetic diseases, and some cancers and will help address the world's hunger crisis. Yet even the tiniest changes to DNA could have myriad unforeseeable consequences - to say nothing of the ethical and societal repercussions of intentionally mutating embryos to create "better" humans. Writing with fellow researcher Samuel Sternberg, Doudna shares the thrilling story of her discovery and passionately argues that enormous responsibility comes with the ability to rewrite the code of life. With CRISPR, she shows, we have effectively taken control of evolution. What will we do with this unfathomable power?

©2017 Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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In to the abyss we ascend, a scary future

Would you listen to A Crack in Creation again? Why?

Probably not

Who was your favorite character and why?

n/a

What about Erin Bennett’s performance did you like?

Good

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The whole idea shook me not just moved me

Any additional comments?

This book is a must read for everyone. Humanity is on the cusp of changing itself forever and most don't even know it.<br/><br/>I will ignore the mistakes and unintended consequences of the fascinating CRISPR technology, which are scarier and more prevalent than any technology humans have ever created, and let's pretend everything goes as planned, a highly unlikely scenario.<br/><br/>CRISPR technology is basically the editing of genes with what appears to be the at most accuracy, and it is easier and cheaper than pretty much any other important technology man has recently created.<br/><br/>Creating a mouse that glows in the dark, a pig that is the size of a pet dog, a fish which grows legs are things that have already been achieved. Eliminating heritable disease will be next without a doubt, and what after that? Forget a pretty blue eyed child, or a tall muscular athlete, which I'm sure is coming to a theatre next to you soon.<br/><br/>Let's use our imagination, a larger brain, more memory, more stamina, less sleep, high IQ, a human that has gills and can breath underwater and go down the near endless list of living DNA and pick your choice.<br/><br/>At first glance I think, let this not happen, STOP it right now, then I realise the cat is out of the bag, Pandora's box has been opened. It is the ultimate weapon for domination that has all the hallmarks of Eugenics on steroids.<br/><br/>To quote Steven Pinker let's hope "the better nature of our angels" evolves quickly enough to create future humans with compassion and tolerance. The author, probably a great scientist, is an optimist. I truly hope she's right, otherwise this could be a good explanation to Fermi's Paradox. This could potentially be the last mistake humankind makes. Since the next one if we are lucky will be made by an edited human animal that will need a new name.<br/><br/>Fascinating, incredible and scary science, and not necessarily in this order. Highly recommended for those who want to be spooked.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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An easily digestible intro to the future...

Maybe it was driven by my personal curiosity but I found this to be an excellent intro to a topic that I've only encountered in exaggerated news clips or poorly written internet blog ramblings.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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a must read

wow... so glad you wrote this (and so glad I read it). thank you on so many levels

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Compelling and eye opening!

I listened to a podcast on Crispr/Cas9 a few years ago. I wanted to build a greater understand if the technology. It's well written & designed for the non-scientist although I was grateful I paid attention in high school biology.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Balanced, insightful, pressing

Prof Doudna's insightful account of this rapidly developing capability -- along with its inherent impact on mankind -- is both balanced and pressing. Recommended and accessible to people of all walks of life. I was unaware of how far genetic engineering has advanced -- stunning, concerning, and inspirational -- all at the same time. IT'S A GREAT BOOK!

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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If you can get past the dripping ego...

Okay. So the author is brilliant. That is not in question. However, prepare yourself to hear how "amazing" and "brilliant" nearly everyone is that she has come in contact. The story gets quite preachy at parts and has moments of borderline condescension. If you can put this aside, the science is interesting.

19 of 26 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic, and Enlightening!

This should be a must read for all who are concerned about the future of the human race. Prof Doudna and her collaborators should receive the Nobel prize for their genius and dedication .

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Amazing

what a wonderful book. Enthusiastically describes an incredible new level of understanding. As well as how the tools that come with it can make all our genetic dreams, and nighmares, come true.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Kenneth
  • LEESBURG, VA, United States
  • 12-10-17

My Pick, Best Book of the Middle Half of the 2010s

This is a mass market book about a new disruptive technology, including a significant description of it’s history, written by a future Nobel Laureate.

The technology is CRISPR, a new gene editing technology that is cheap and much more precise than any previous method. At present it’s still mostly in the laboratory, although home CRISPR kits exist from a popular crowd funding site. But it seems like within a decade (or so) this will lead to the counterpart of 3d printing for the bio-geneticist (software and big data are most of what is missing).

I’d known about CRISPR for a year or two, but mostly just from short news style articles in science oriented sites. This book quickly enabled a medium level of understanding. For most readers this is probably the primary value of the book; if you don’t know about CRISPR or only know a little bit, this is one of those topics where it’s worth reading a book to bring yourself up to speed early in the revolution.

To be clear about the perspective there is a chance that this will be less disruptive than the Internet, perhaps because it will be highly regulated like controlled substances, but it seems a little more likely that this will be much more disruptive than the Internet.

The author talks about her life as a scientist and about the history of the invention as well as many of the follow-on inventions. Some of the chapters about why CRISPR works are a bit too dense for audio absorption while driving. I found myself using the button on my car to jog the audio back a few tracks quite a often.

There is also a section on the moral and ethical implications of the use of the technology. I found this section uncomfortable, because in my life time so often when scientist have attempted to inform public policy about big issues they have added to the confusion rather than adding to the clarity. But I admire her earnestness. And to be fair CRISPR is a very dangerous technology. I will go out on a limb and predict that someone will weaponize it for aqueous delivery within the next 12 years. But the scarier prospect is the ability to modify human genetics in a heritable way (i.e., modify the germ line).

A section of the book talks about the possibility of accidentally introducing catastrophic mutations. I think this is a misplaced fear. Evolution must be robust with respect to almost any isolated mutation (I recommend the book Arrival of the Fittest on this point). But the ability to affect large scale genetic changes in a single generation seems nearly certain to lead to an unstable system. I don’t mean a departure from quiescence, rather I mean instability in the sense of feedback and control theory. That is, where each correction leads to an ever-larger overshoot until the system becomes resource constrained or destroys itself. Imagine generations of humans alternating between producing too many males and too many females an attempt to correct the imbalance of the previous generation. Now imagine similar instabilities involving 100s of different traits.

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Amazing Science!

What a great story of discovery and introspection. A thoroughly enjoyable and believable narration. I thought I was listening to Jennifer Doudna.

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  • Craig
  • 11-05-17

Outstanding Science !

Whilst the science of CRISPR will change everything....and I mean everything, this book is superb at putting the case for both the technical issues and the societal.

One of the best books I have read in a long time!

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  • M. Griffiths
  • 08-15-17

Gene editing introduction

From the horse's mouth, this book runs thru the discovery of truly transformational biology. Basic concepts are well explained for the uninitiated and the story is both incredibly important and interesting. The author's presentation of her work was not unlikeable and seemed fair - she has been accused of claiming all the credit.
Why not 5 stars? It is a little repetitive and an accompanying pdf is invaluable for this type of book.