Book Review: The Gene – Siddhartha Mukherjee

Title: The Gene: An Intimate History
Author: Siddhartha Mukherjee
ISBN: 9781476733500
Pages: 608
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Scribner
Genre: Nonfiction, Science, History
Source: Publisher


In The Gene, professor and cancer physician Siddartha Mukherjee takes a look at our genes through a social history perspective, melding science, medicine, and history to help us understand exactly what our genes do and why they are important.


If you read Siddhartha Mukherjee’s epic Pulitzer Prize-winning history of cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies, then you likely know what you are in for when picking up The Gene. It’s a comprehensive look at genes from many different angles—from the history of their discovery to how they affect our health and behavior to the possibilities and implications of advanced gene manipulation. It’s both broad and incredibly deep, which is hard to do successfully, yet once again, Mukherjee does it expertly.

I’m usually a pretty fast reader, but I took The Gene slow. I mean SLOW—it took me a couple of months to get through it. Not because it was difficult or boring, or anything of the sort; I found the entire book fascinating. So fascinating, in fact, that I found myself rereading certain sections, thinking and pondering over a paragraph for a few minutes before I moved onto the next. This is a book that is worth spending some qualiy time with.

There’s a lot of science in The Gene, but it’s a surprisingly emotional read. Mukherjee does an incredible job mixing personal stories with hard science. He makes you realize that science isn’t this cold thing that is impersonal and disconnected from humanity. It is intertwined with who we are as people, and explains why we are here. If you’re looking for a great long read to sink your teeth into, to really get lost in, I highly recommend picking this up immediately.

Other books by Siddhartha Mukherjee:

The Emperor of All Maladies

Affiliate Links:

Buy this book from Powell’s Books
Buy this book from
Buy this book from your local Indiebound bookstore


  1. I like Siddhartha Mukherjee’s previous book, “The Emperor of All Maladies” Well, maybe “love” is not the correct word, since I found it profoundly unsettling and a little nervewracking. So I was very excited to get a copy of The Gene.

    The Gene felt to me like a very readable textbook of genetics from the Greeks to Mendel to the present, with a look at the future. It is surprisingly interesting Mukherjee writes well and I enjoyed his character sketches of the various players in this history.

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy:  I welcome comments and read each one I receive. If your comment needs a response, I will provide it in a timely manner, as I read every comment I receive. Please keep your comments civil and polite! I reserve the right to delete any comments that are rude or inappropriate. Because of spam, I have to moderate comments on old posts. Please be patient - I will approve your comment quickly.

Before the tag in the Genesis footer: !-- Quantcast Tag -->