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: