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The Genome War: How Craig Venter Tried to Capture the Code of Life and Save the World
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The Genome War: How Craig Venter Tried to Capture the Code of Life and Save the World

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  297 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
The long-awaited story of the science, the business, the politics, the intrigue behind the scenes of the most ferocious competition in the history of modern science--the race to map the human genome.
On May 10, 1998, biologist Craig Venter, director of the Institute for Genomic Research, announced that he was forming a private company that within three years would unravel t
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Published February 3rd 2004 by Random House, Inc. (first published October 15th 2003)
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Jan 14, 2009 Flag0010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very nice read. Describes the often tumultuous political scene that underlay the Human Genome Sequencing project.

Originally the Human Genome project was publicly funded, and included many of the brightest human geneticists in the world. In addition to being brilliant scientists, this group contained some fascinating personalities. The author does an excellent job of conveying these often extreme personalities and setting the scene for what would eventually escalate into the scientific equivalen
Jul 01, 2013 Joan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: science readers, both medical and nonmedical
This was a fascinating book. I only gave it three stars for what might be a lack in me: I don't feel I learned much more about the science than before reading the book. It is a fascinating story. Like any story it has characters that are all too human in the poor sense of the word. Inflated egos were all over the place, hindering the actual science. Spite came into play more than a few times as well. Venter himself was guilty of some of this as well. The author did not try to pretty him up, even ...more
David Bird
May 15, 2014 David Bird rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book offers a plausible, journalistic account of the mapping of the human genome: plausible in the sense that the motives, machinations, and manipulations ring true enough; journalistic in the sense that vivid personalities are very much to the fore, and that deeper issues are more alluded to than thoroughly explored. Shreeve clearly talked to people on the government side of things, but spent the bulk of his time with those at Celera. One result of this is that while the government/academi ...more
Jan 27, 2016 Hayley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Shreeve’s novel, The Genome War, is a fast-paced, action-packed book about the race to complete the human genome. It is aptly named, as the race became an intellectual conflict comparable to a war. In his thrilling novel, Shreeve opened my eyes to the ordinariness of scientists, the political nature of scientific discovery, and the way competition can shape results.
Before reading The Genome War, I idolized the forefathers of genetics (Mendel, Darwin, Watson, McClintock, etc.). Because of
Frank Ryan
Feb 03, 2014 Frank Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this book. In places I read it as I would a thriller, it was so engrossing. I was well aware of the confrontation between the official Genome Project, NIH sponsored, and the private consortium, Celera, founded by Craig Venter. Having worked as a doctor and scientist all my life, I am used to the somewhat tentative interface between pure science, or pure medicine, and big business, in the form of the pharmaceutical industry. The goals of the doctors and scientists are rather dif ...more
Feb 24, 2008 Wendy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure I could like a book where the main character is so loathsome ... yeah Craig ... you are a creepy person ... you make scientists seem, ummmmm... mad, yeah mad. How in the world did you get to be so self-important? You want to know why so much government money is wasted ... look no further ... it goes to propping up the huge egos of Venter and his ilk. Sad, sad, sad. Did I learn anything from this book? yes. Did I really want to know? No.
Dec 13, 2007 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having worked for him at TIGR, I really enjoyed seeing the next chapter. This author really captures the culture and excitement of the man and the project. It is a real page-turner, as well. Venter is such an exciting and enigmatic guy, Shreve will need to write a second volume, soon.
Ahmed ِAbdel Gawad
خمسمائة صفحة من المتعة الخالصة.. من أروع الكتب العلمية لهذا العام
Dec 13, 2015 Yofish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-science-y
Really 4.25

The author follows J Craig Venter, who is a scientist/entrepeneur who is a little full of himself. His company declares that it will map the whole human genome---but at the same time, there is a HUGE effort funded by the feds to do exactly that. Venter claims that his method will go much faster, and so the academics should just stop and do something else instead. Yeah, that goes over well. But the author is granted access from this beginning point. Well, to the company's doings, so we
Apr 19, 2008 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Much of the science went directly over my head, but the drama of the race for the human genome is a fascinating one. On one side, there is the government funded Human Genome project, made up of universities and various government agencies and on the other side is Craig Venter. Venter’s concern was not only with sequencing the human genome, but also in capturing “valuable” real estate on the genome via patenting. Thus, the race took on mind-boggling importance of who would own the code to life. W ...more
Bojan Tunguz
Jun 10, 2011 Bojan Tunguz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The decoding of the entire human DNA has been rightly considered the most important scientific achievement of the start of end of twentieth and the beginning of twenty-first century. The Human Genome, as the complete DNA information is know, is a vast, complicated information resource that is essentially a digital instruction book on how to build a human organism. The promise for all of human biology in understanding such an important repository of information is enormous. It has the potential t ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Though he might be admired for his lofty scientific goals, Venter is not a well-liked man. At the time in question, the government called him "Darth Vader." Shreeve merely describes him both as "an inspiration" and an "opportunistic maniac." Genome War pays close attention to this ego-driven biologist. Despite his facade, he comes across as a complex man with deep insecurities. Shreeve, who gained full access to Celera, handles technical information well and reveals the inner bowels of the compa

Feb 20, 2014 Austin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James Shreeve had the inside scoop on Celera's attempt to sequence the human genome in the year 2000 and after a three year period, he was allowed to publish it. The narrative is one-sided - as Shreeve writes, he was not given access to the NIH Human Genome Project so his descriptions of those events are second hand. He does an excellent job explaining the science behind the sequencing and interpretation of the genome and creates memorable characters out of the scientists at Celera. I think ther ...more
Tanya Spackman
Less interesting than expected. However, I did enjoy learning about what was going on in the 1990s. That was when I was eagerly following each journal article about microbe DNA that was sequenced, and when I thought TIGR would be such a cool place to work. Reading about all the politics and drama that was going on during that time was quite enjoyable.
Igor Faynshteyn
Sep 06, 2013 Igor Faynshteyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The distinguished feature of this book is its style of writing. It is fluent and straight forward. Although this is a depiction of the whole story behind the Human Genome Project, it reads like an epic tale of a breathtaking journey.

James Shreeve gives a close account of all the events that led up to the sequencing of human genome, including politics, science, business, legal issues and personal relations. What's more, is that a lay reader who understands nothing about genes or molecular biology
Jul 16, 2014 Cara marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Difficult to read a book about such unpleasant people. Are there any geneticists out there who are also decent human beings?
Arthur Gibson
Good book. Certainly a good telling of the events from inside the minds of those who participated. Due to some access issues it was a little one sided, but the author tells why and is very up front about it. Would recommend to anyone who was interested in how they came to map the genome. So sad that the darker aspects of humanity (greed, jealousy, pride) interfered so much with it. It could have been done faster and possibly better if everyone had been able to play nice. A lesson for future ende ...more
Cheyenne Sloan
Very YA-y. Pretty interesting but you'll hate Venter by the end of the book.
Oct 14, 2013 Derek rated it it was amazing
The book explored the conflict between the Human Genome Project a government-based effort to map the human genome and the private efforts of Craig Venter to beat the government to the punch. Craig Venter is the type of man I would not like in person. But he cannot be ignored as a daring and competent individual. I will not scrutinize his ability as a scientist; I’m not equipped to make such judgments. What his optimism and indomitable will accomplished is tremendous and noteworthy. It is on the ...more
May 09, 2015 Acacia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Super well-written and engaging.
Jan 11, 2016 Samantha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is really interesting until about 150 pages in--from that point, you're better off Googling the ending.
An interesting subject and not a bad book but you need a spread-sheet to keep track of the dozens of characters, the entities they work for or are members of, how those entities themselves are related, what their agendas were ... I eventually gave up on trying to keep it all straight.
Past the half-way point I began to feel it was getting rather repetitive and struggled to keep going but I did because I wanted to see the main "plot" resolved.
Jul 11, 2013 Ross rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting story both from a scientific and business standpoint, and very well written. This is a prime example of how big science can involve and generate big business. The main figure in the story is a highly unusual man named Craig Venter. For a scientist he has the most unusual background you can possibly imagine, which adds considerably to the interest of the story.
Jan 12, 2008 Joel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yeah, yeah, this seems like a totally nerdy science book, but don't be fooled. It's really the tale of one of the most important races of the 20th century - the race to map the human genome. It honestly has it all, drive, dedication, deceit, love, hate, you name it. Shreeve's narrative style is smooth and definitely compatible with lay understanding.
Cynthia Karl
Jul 23, 2013 Cynthia Karl rated it it was amazing
An outstanding book - proves once again that truth can be stranger than fiction. What a cast of characters and the author does an excellent job of describing them. The author is also very good at using metaphors and analogies to explain the sometimes complex scientific and technological aspects of unraveling the mysteries of the genome.
May 08, 2013 Emilie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes on a complex project: it aims to detail the scientific, legal, ethical and social occurrences that led up to the sequencing of the full human genome. However, it makes more of the narrative arc of the race to sequence the genome than is really useful in explaining what really happened. but, it's interesting.
Aug 16, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating mix of science and business that tells the story of the race to decode the human genome.
Aug 29, 2009 Rene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Een illustratie van hoe competitie in wetenschap in zijn werk gaat.
Nov 17, 2012 Trish rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
An interesting story told well with lots of science and history.b
Aug 15, 2011 walter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well told, but I agree with Watson: Craig is no scientist.
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