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Publisher's Summary

The genome's been mapped. But what does it mean?

Arguably the most significant scientific discovery of the new century, the mapping of the 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up the human genome raises almost as many questions as it answers - questions that will profoundly impact the way we think about disease, about longevity, and about free will. Questions that will affect the rest of your life.

Genome offers extraordinary insight into the ramifications of this incredible breakthrough. By picking one newly discovered gene from each pair of chromosomes and telling its story, Matt Ridley recounts the history of our species and its ancestors from the dawn of life to the brink of future medicine.

From Huntington's disease to cancer, from the applications of gene therapy to the horrors of eugenics, Matt Ridley probes the scientific, philosophical, and moral issues arising as a result of the mapping of the genome. It will help you understand what this scientific milestone means for you, for your children, and for humankind.

©1999 Matt Ridley (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Among many recent books on genes, behavior and evolution, Ridley's is one of the most informative. It's also the most fun to read." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 05-21-12

Still useful today.

Even though it's published in 1999 the book is still useful today. I was reluctant to get it because I though it might be dated. He really does explain the human genome better than anything I've read. The book was a necessary background to educate me about all of this talk I've been hearing about the human genome. Some of his assertions haven't held up since the publication of the book, but don't let that dissuade you from reading this highly informative book.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Nice genome overview

While it doesn't necessarily break new ground when it comes to recent discoveries about our genome, Ridley does a good job of exploring the implications of some of the most valued discoveries about our genome.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Lucas
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 02-09-12

Great overview of genetics research

Written in 1999, this is a bit dated but it provides a great summary of the fundamentals of genetics. Clear writing and fascinating case studies elucidate the fundamentals of heredity, traits carried on X & Y chromosomes, Eugenics, nature vs. nurture, the future of genetically-based treatments, and so much more. Highly recommended.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott
  • Scarborough, ON, Canada
  • 03-11-15

Interesting but wish it were more up to date

What did you like best about this story?

Equal parts fascinating and informative, Ridley offers a tour of the human genome with each chapter focusing on a different gene(s) within one of 22 chromosome (the 23rd sex linked chromosomes are omitted). Thankfully, rather than an exhaustive A to Z treatment that would have been numbing, Ridley chose wisely to focus on a sample representative not only of the traits and qualities that define us as humans but also illustrate the vast promise and hidden shortfalls of genetics, heritability, disease and at the end, free will. I found this very intriguing and the arguments/science are well laid out. A few caveats though: this is a step above an introductory/layperson guide so at least a general familiarity with genetics will make this much more understandable (and enjoyable) listen; secondly, the author’s foray into behaviourism, Freudian psychology and some arguments about free will and determinism were a little shaky and perhaps out of place here; and finally, the book was written in 1999 which may as well have been a millennia ago given the pace of genetic research. Though I wouldn’t say this disqualifies the book, I was left yearning perhaps for a second edition that might be more current. Still, the themes of the book remain relevant and I found it a very worthwhile and enjoyable read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Yesterday's Issue's

I did not enjoy this book, BUT it doesn't mean you won't. Published in 1999, I personally do not feel that it holds up very well. The reason for this is, the author spends really a very small amount of time on the basic science, and quite a lot on social implications and ethics. If this had been a sort of "Traveler's Guide to the Genome", ...which is really what I was hoping for... then I don't think it would have aged much. But social issues, those change quite quickly, and the pop-culture audience is more informed on some things than they might have been in 1999.

However, this is just my opinion! The narrator is great. If you know absolutely nothing about genetics, as in, haven't turned on a tv or watched a movie in the past 10 years, then you might find this book really interesting!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The reader is hard to understand

The book itself is great and filled with very enlightening information. It is a shame that the person who is reading it sometimes seems like he is just reading to himself. Very often he will drop to a very quiet murmur and you will miss entire words and sometimes freezes and have to rewind and turn the volume up then back to normal. He pronounced words strangely and it took me a minute to understand what he was saying. His tone is very dry and emotionless.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Some chapters riveting, some aimless and boring.

Where does Genome rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the 60% range. I'm glad I listened to it but it's definitely not among the top books I've ever listened to.

Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

The concepts actually were pretty easy to follow. I appreciated it from that standpoint. It didn't get too scienc-y but some of the analogies I felt were actually more confusing than enlightening. Like, "DNA is digital." Well, it's not. Digital is 1s and 0s, DNA is chemical. Had he said "DNA is like digital information" it might have been different.

What does Simon Prebble bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Other than a british accent, not much.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

this would be a terrible title, but it's my synopsis: Choosing one gene or characteristic on each chromosome to tell something about that chromosome.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Almost masterful

Dealing with a complex subject, filled with chemical structures & names, this book could have been mind-boggling. However the author and reader break down the subject-matter with clear references, humor & chatty dialogue . Walking through the chromosomes one-by-one with a reference to time, ethics, determinism, etc. makes listening to this book both enjoyable and understandable. Well done.

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great prep book for bio lover

love the book. i learned how to describe the HUGO in English!!
recommend for biology lover

  • Overall

definatley informative!

easy to understand, loved the narrater, and will be re-listening to it in the near future