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The Double Helix

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  9,463 ratings  ·  503 reviews
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 young scientist hungry to make his mark. His uncompromisingly honest account of the heady days of their thrilling sprint against other world-class researchers to solve one of scie ...more
Paperback, 143 pages
Published February 1st 1969 by Signet Books (first published 1968)
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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
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
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
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 .
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
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
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
Shows how arrogant, misogynistic, and plain stupid the "discoverers" of DNA's double helix were.

Pros: Emphasizes the importance of being able to access a free, open, creative, in some ways childish state of mind in order to allow for truly creative and "defocalized" states of mind that allow for scientific discovery. Tunnel vision can be a scientist's worst nightmare.

Cons: Shows how childish, pretentious and socially inept the scientific establishment can be. Also shows how a great scientist wh
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
I had to read this book for a science class in college. I've never forgiven that teacher.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
So...umm. Hmm. Okay right off the bat, if you're not someone with a lot of biochem in their brain, this book is one-half to one-third wholly unfuckingcomprehensible. I say this as someone whose college sciences were Astrology and Geology. This was never meant to be the weird, scandalous, ego-driven smash hit it ended up being, is my impression. It didn't seem like Watson entirely expected the backlash and sensation of it. But there the book was, on Time Magazine's Top 100 non-fiction books, and ...more
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
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
Nov 11, 2008 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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
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
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Science and Inquiry: The Double Helix 16 82 Dec 23, 2012 11:20AM  
Annotated & Illustrated Edition, November 2012 1 11 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 Mad Pursuit
  • The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History
  • Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA
  • What Is Life? with Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches
  • The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, 600 B.C. to A.D. 1450
  • On Growth and Form
  • Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth
  • Voyage of the Beagle
  • Disturbing the Universe
  • The Ants
  • Naturalist
  • One, Two, Three...Infinity: Facts and Speculations of Science
  • Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth
  • The Eighth Day of Creation
  • The Character of Physical Law
  • Selected Essays
  • Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code
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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“On the other hand, the sun of Naples might be conducive to learning something about the biochemistry of the embryonic development of marine animals.” 0 likes
“Al Hershey had sent me a long letter from Cold Spring Harbor summarizing the recently completed experiments by which he and Martha Chase established that a key feature of the infection of a bacterium by a phage was the injection of the viral DNA into the host bacterium. Most important, very little protein entered the bacterium. Their experiment was thus a powerful new proof that DNA is the primary genetic material. Nonetheless, almost no one in the audience of over four hundred microbiologists seemed interested as I read long sections of Hershey’s letter. Obvious exceptions were André Lwoff, Seymour Benzer, and Gunther Stent, all briefly over from Paris. They knew that Hershey’s experiments were not trivial and that from then on everyone was going to place more emphasis on DNA. To most of the spectators, however, Hershey’s name carried no weight.” 0 likes
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