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The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
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The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  8,814 ratings  ·  478 reviews
The classic personal account of Watson and Crick’s groundbreaking discovery of the structure of DNA, now with an introduction by Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind.

By identifying the structure of DNA, the molecule of life, Francis Crick and James Watson revolutionized biochemistry and won themselves a Nobel Prize. At the time, Watson was only twenty-four, a...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 16th 2011 by Touchstone Books (NY) (first published 1968)
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Douglas
I made the mistake of reading this over a long period of time. I see now that it really needs to be read in just a few sittings. Also, a basic background in chemistry and physics (none of which I have) would be beneficial. Thank goodness for Wikipedia.

This is the riveting story of the discovery of the secret of life, the helical structure of DNA. Even though the Nobel award was given to both James D. Watson and Francis Crick, the pendulum of recognition swings to Watson for this well-known acco...more
Tony61
James D. Watson became a controversial figure later in life, but this story recounts the seminal event in his life: the 1953 discovery of the structure of DNA for which he received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology with his collaborator Francis Crick and another, Maurice Wilkins.

Watson is an excellent storyteller, something which cannot be said of most scientists. He successfully ensnares the reader into the drama of the moment, describing the personalities involved and making the science atta...more
Tariq Alferis
اللولب المزدوج . الحمض النووي . اصل الحياة






الأن فترة استعداد لي إمتحان القادم في بايو كمستري ، كان نصيب الأمس في دراسة شيت "شابتر"الأحماض النووية ، وبالطبع الدكتور شرح مقدمة علي مكتشف الدنا ، وطبعا فضولي النابع من الحسد للمكتشفين

واصحاب جائزة نوبل خلاني نبحث عليه لعند ماوصلت لتحفة ورواية شخصية لي اكتشاف أهم اكتشاف علمي لحد الأن ،..!


المهم في بداية كانت صدمة أنه جمس واطسون دخل الجامعة شيكاغو وعمره 14 السنة ..! عبقرية ياسي ..!

لكن علي حسب السرد في الكتاب ، وحسب مقولة واطسون ..ان كل العلماء أغبياء ....more
TheBookofJules
James Watson and Francis Crick made arguably the greatest discovery of the 20th century: proving that DNA is the building block of life and providing a solid structure for it. This short autobiographical account written by Watson provides an in depth - and biased - look into the discovery and also reveals the world of science, where fair play isn't always adhered to.

I remember my mother talking about Crick and Watson when I was a kid learning about DNA in school and telling me how these two me...more
Nikki
I ended up skimming this. I really hope his more recent book DNA: The Secret of Life is considerably more interesting and considerably less sexist. It should be a fascinated story, but really it's mostly about James D. Watson bouncing around between different supervisors and making sexist comments about Rosalind Franklin -- sorry, "Rosy", who would've been much better in his eyes if she'd done something with her hair.

I can understand his fascination with DNA, but that's just about all I could ge...more
صفاء فضلاوي
لطالما قرأت عن ثرثرة كريك فرانسيس وجايمس واطسون
وهذه الرواية أكدت لي الكثير من هذه الحقائق
ورغم اني كنت مريضة خلال قرائتي لها فقد زادت من سوء حالتي بعض فصول هذا الكتاب
مازاد إثارتي هي الفصول الاخيرة واقتراب اكتشافهما لبنية الحمض النووي
heidi
I have no doubt that James Watson was a (pretty) competent scientist - although the way he writes it, every thing seemed to favor him up to the discovery of the double helix structure. He chose the field by a mix of chance and cunning, having eliminated other fields which would require more effort, by his own words (I suppose some people call it self-disparaging, but somehow to me it reads like a humble brag) and less likely to yield the chance to make a huge discovery. If that's not cheating sc...more
محمد سلامة
"من الممكن حتى لهاوي طيور سابق أن يحل الحمض النووي ! " ~ جيمس واطسون .

العلم ليس كما كنا نظن .. ليس لمجموعة أشخاص بمعاطف بيضاء.. معزولين عن العالم ويعيشون في المختبرات مع فئران التجارب !
العلم في الحقيقة تجربة إنسانية من الدرجة الأولى .. تحوي بين طياتها مشاعر إنسانية مختلطة .. من حقد وكراهية وتنافس وخوف وتحدي وهزيمة وانتصار .. أكثر ما أعجبني في الكتاب هو تركيز واطسون - في أثناء بحثه عن التركيب المثالي للـ دنا - أنه لابد أن يكون جميلًا وبسيطًا .. و عندما اكتشف النموذج، كان على يقين تام بأن شيئًا ب...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Very short memoir/history by Watson of his and Cricks unravelling of DNA and coming up with the double helix. Thanks to X-ray crystallography and studies by experimentalists like Rosiland Franklin and near misses like JBS Haldane's attempts to model DNA as triple helix Watson and Crick were able to figure out the double helix and the G to C and A to T pairings of the nucleotides and provide a foundation for Genetics. Many teams at the time thought DNA was probably the molecule responsible for c...more
04victorias
Who on earth would want to read an entire book about genetics and DNA? I certinly wouldn't, but I did because I had to for my grade in Biology. This book was very boring and confusing. There definately was a lot of information that might interest scientist or people studying that subject. Informative books are very great resources for research though. If you are researching stuff about DNA or genetics this would be a great book for you.

James D. Watson was the main character in the book. There we...more
Vicki Doronina
Is it just me, or are there not many well-written scientific memoirs around? Even the words “scientific memoir” brings up an image of a long and boring book. There are a lot of good books written about scientists, but not by scientists. Maybe it’s because the scientists are trained to write logically, objectively and dispassionately: this approach results in good papers and science books, but not a compelling “after hours” reading.

“The Double Helix” by James Watson of Watson-Crick fame is a scie...more
Shawn
Sep 17, 2011 Shawn rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shawn by: Jason Reuter
This book was probably ten times as fun to read as I suspected it would be. The very idea of it, and its drab wrappings, led me to believe it would be dull, full of scientific mumbo-jumbo, slow, and poorly written. It was none of these. It's one of the few books that I have had a hard time putting down. The race between team Watson and Crick vs Linus was riveting, and even though I knew how it would generally work out, I was worried and on edge until their paper was published. I was especially i...more
Ellee
This book was fantastic! I wasn't sure whether or not it would be hard to understand, but there was very little about the technical aspects of Watson & Crick's discovery of DNA's form. The book is a very quick read and I thought, very exciting. :) The book is written as a scientific memoir about how Watson & Crick made their Nobel Prize-winning discovery.

This book would be great for people thinking of entering scientific fields who aren't sure they've got what it takes to make it. Very e...more
Rob
The molecular structure of DNA was determined in 1953 by James Watson and Francis Crick. That was probably the most influential discovery in all of biology and chemistry during that century. This book was written by Watson (comparatively younger and inexperienced compared to Crick, at the time) about how they did it. In great detail, he explains how they did it by essentially using Rosalind Franklin's data without her permission, how the more notorius Linus Pauling nearly beat them to it, and ho...more
Troy Blackford
Watson is one of those figures who's opinion of himself is so high, you can't help but be dissuaded from feeling the respect you would have been willing to give him merely on the basis of his accomplishments. Reading this book was full of cringe-worthy moments of self-aggrandizement, and times when his accounts of trying to pick up French girls at parties and things of that nature were just unwanted. Written in the late sixties about events that happened in the early fifties, I shouldn't be surp...more
Lewis Weinstein
I had the great good fortune to meet Dr. James Watson, many times actually, and to have his kind assistance when I, a scientific novice, set out to save the venerable Public Health Research Institute in New York. Watson's major accomplishment, his role in determining the structure of DNA, is a fascinating tale well told in a form the lay reader can easily appreciate. For those who wonder how scientific discoveries are made, and indeed on the nature of scientific research itself, this is a great...more
Arthur
The well told story of one of the most important discoveries. As important a journey as Darwin's The Origin of the Species but a much better read. Four stars because:
- historical and scientific primary source
- engaging read
- accessibility to a non-science audience
If I were going to recommend a non-fic science book this would be it.

Again, concerning stars, I just can't bring myself to give everything good five stars so four is high praise. Five has to change everything.
David
the more that he persisted with his theory the more that they tried to persuaded him to put it a side but as outlined in the book his competitor's knew he was on to a winner and the snobby world of academia much like a ( covert group) there pecking order means that the professors are the ones that get all the credit, no the ones that do all, the hard work



but behind the glory lies a story of rivery, driving ambition, and controversy vivid accounts and the " birth of as new idea" the struggles, d...more
Robert Farwell
I gave it three stars last night (DNA night, thanks Riku), but that just didn't seem right. The structure wasn't stable, and I felt it probably deserved four stars (one for A, one for T, one for G, one for C; also one for Watson, one for Crick, one for Wilkins, and yes one for Franklin).

Short, interesting, personal and important but also sexist, biased, & according to Crick "a violation of friendship". Watson's attitudes towards Rosalind Franklin today seem so maligned that Watson eventually...more
Ali Alyami
First of all, I had the honor of meeting the author of this book and taking a picture with him.

As the subtitle suggests, this is James Watson narrating the account of the discovery of the structure of DNA: the double helix. The journey of this discovery was basically a heated race between Watson/Crick and a great American chemist named Linus Pauling. Watson and Crick were smart men and curious. That was all it took! They didn't have the background for their discovery, for Watson was set to be a...more
Troy
My one-line rundown: anyone who thinks the scientific process is a dry affair, barren of drama, silliness, oddity or personality, should read this book.

I started trying to keep up with the great quotes from this book, but eventually gave up; there are too many. Take the opening salvo of the first chapter: 'I have never seen Francis Crick in a modest mood.' Or Watson's contention, as a 24 year-old graduate student, that 'in contrast to the popular conception supported by newspapers and mothers of...more
Eric
Nov 11, 2008 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: almost anyone

In this book James D. Watson chronicles the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA along with Francis Crick, Rosalind Franklin, and Maurice Wilkins.

It is a fascinating first-person account of what Watson was experiencing as it occurred, and includes his thoughts as he reflects back on the events and the people he misjudged at the time. The reader encounters such scientific giants as Linus Pauling, and is given a real feel for how Watson and Crick's thinking process occurred as they deve...more
Larry
This self promoting story of the conceptual breakthru that led to the discovery of the composition and structure of the DNA molecule has been in publication for over 50 years which attests to Watson's skill as a story teller. It does accomplish the goal of describing the agonizing task of unraveling the mystery and to that end is a darn good detective story. It also explains the science in terms understandable to us lay people but it only hints at the true magic of the discovery, the sequencing...more
Michael Cable
This was an interesting look into the days leading up to the discovery of the DNA molecule. Watson's style is easy to read, though there are portions which exhibit some science that most people will not understand, one should just gloss over them and continue on with the fast paced narrative. The history of the race for this discovery built in tension as the story progressed and the credit that Watson gives to all of the other individuals who assisted in some way is encouraging and thoughtful. H...more
Andrewcharles420
This was a strange edition of a book (any book) to read. In addition to the main text is a lot of mostly critical commentary about the book and its popular reception; also there were some original references, for those more concerned with the details of scientific history (I read 2 of the 6 academic papers included but then (like most academic papers) skimmed the rest).

I thoroughly enjoyed the main text! I thought Watson did a wonderful job of describing life as a lowly researcher in a big insti...more
Battle_slug
Just finished this book. What can i say? It is totally worth reading, but if you are not afraid of some scientific words and descriptions. For me it is one of the best books ever, and i will explain why.
First of all this short book tells about how really big discoveries are being made: surprisingly the regular people are making them. But those people are keen to make something new. They don't bother about the money, or sex, or new car - the biggest passion possessing them is the science. Such bo...more
06AspenW
Usually science completely bores me, and lectures are worse than a horrific death to me. This book is an exception and has changed my outlook. The Double Helix is a wonderful novel, and I recommend that other kids with my common stereotype should read it. It is really sciency, but not boring. My brain didn't explode.

He arrives at Cavendish laboratory in Cambridge, England. He becomes "friends" with two other scientists. James goes to the Cavendish lab to look at the molecular structore of proein...more
05nathanb
The parties, the science, and the award. The Double Helix by James D. Watson is a story about himself that actually happened in the which he and his partner, Francis Crick, were able to find the chemical bonding of DNA and the overall structure of the code of life. This story is the story of how they slaved over the DNA molecule until they finally could make a model that well explained the structure of the DNA molecule. They received a Nobel prize for their efforts and both wrote a book recolle...more
^
Sep 08, 2014 ^ rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all those who have a sense of curiosity
Recommended to ^ by: My mother
James Watson’s style of writing flows such that this book reads more like a novel than an account of one of the very greatest discoveries in the biological sciences. He bares to his reader the frailties of individual human nature in addition to his passionate description of the sheer excitement of the final discovery which is only now beginning to really be exploited, in our twenty-first century.

Watson’s humility shines throughout; not that he was adverse to taking an advantage when an opportuni...more
Jonathan
I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed this book. Told through the eyes of a wide-eyed 20-something James Watson, The Double Helix makes scientific discovery feel like a high-speed chase. The race against Linus Pauling, the tension with Rosalind Franklin, coincidences and bursts of theoretical inspiration. All at a frenetic, whirlwind pace in just over 200 pages, including loads of photographs, diagrams and scanned images of notes scribbled on scrap paper that would change biology forever....more
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Science and Inquiry: The Double Helix 16 81 Dec 23, 2012 11:20AM  
Annotated & Illustrated Edition, November 2012 1 9 Nov 22, 2012 12:04AM  
The Double Helix: Annotated and Illustrated 1 9 Nov 17, 2012 06:57AM  
  • The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
  • What Is Life? with Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches
  • On Growth and Form
  • Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA
  • Ever Since Darwin: Reflections on Natural History
  • The Ants
  • Voyage of the Beagle
  • Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth
  • Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth
  • The Ascent of Man
  • Genome: the Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters
  • The Eighth Day of Creation
  • On Human Nature
  • Disturbing the Universe
  • The Character of Physical Law
  • Microbe Hunters
  • Selected Essays
  • One, Two, Three...Infinity: Facts and Speculations of Science
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In 1928, James D. Watson was born in Chicago. Watson, who co-discovered the double helix structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) at age 25, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962, along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins. His bird-watching hobby prompted his interest in genetics. He earned his B.Sc. degree in zoology from the University of Chicago in 1947, and his Ph.D....more
More about James D. Watson...
DNA: The Secret of Life Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science Genes, Girls, and Gamow: After the Double Helix A Passion for DNA: Genes, Genomes, and Society Molecular Biology of the Gene

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