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What Mad Pursuit

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  176 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Candid, provocative, and disarming, this is the widely-praised memoir of the co-discoverer of the double helix of DNA.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 10th 1990 by Basic Books (first published 1988)
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Courtney Johnston
I guess the risk of reading autobiographies is that you might come out not enjoying the book because you don't like the person.

In James Watson's 'The Double Helix' Francis Crick is painted as brilliant, impatient, prone to irritate others with his bumptious nature and unwelcome knowledge-sharing. Watson portrays himself as the shyer, more uncertain half of the duo - out of place both culturally (as an American) and scientifically (he's blagging time away when he's meant to be working on - phages
...more
Robert
Francis Crick is no Jim Watson...and that's a good thing! This little book, an intellectual biography of one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, is a revealing look at the "road to the double helix" as well as an update on what Crick did professionally after moving out of molecular biology. Whereas Watson's book ("The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA") is all about personalities, scientific rivalries, and competition for the ultimate (Nobel) p ...more
Ooi Ghee Leng
We all ponder about the mysteries of life, and the discovery of DNA paves the way to a new level of understanding human can build on. And like human, Crick made all the mistakes he could make before getting there. More often than not, scientists write carefully about their paths to important discoveries, but Crick hides not this. Instead, he exposes all the little and big blunders that deviate him from the right thoughts, and how he manages them in order to maintain a clear mind. I would call th ...more
Colleen Coffin
One of my favorites. I recommend reading at least one of James D. Watson's books in addition to this book because then you will get a better idea of what their individual personalities are like and how they may have interacted during their time together. His skills as a writer are good in that they convey a sense of what his environment must have felt like, how he comes across personality-wise, and how others come across personality-wise. These points comprise the main things I am in search of w ...more
Nemo
An Extraordinary Journey

Dr. Crick shares with the readers his personal journey of scientific discovery. Starting with how he chose molecular biology as his pursuit, the "gossip test -- what you are really interested in is what you gossip about", leading up to the discovery of structure of DNA and the genetic code, and eventually the study of neurobiology when he passed 60, "at my time of life I had a right to do things for my own amusement". Dr. Crick's intelligence and great sense of humor shin
...more
Bruce Caithness
As much as I enjoyed the recap of Francis Crick's and James Watson's unravelling of the structure of DNA I focussed on the wisdom of his musings about the attempted avoidance of error. Excerpts are quoted below:

Page 16 "I've known a lot of people more stupid than you who have made a success of it."

P 24 "Even a cursory look at the world of living things shows its immense variety."
"The second property of almost all living things is their complexity."

P59 "The failure on the part of my colleagues to
...more
Mohamed Ibrahim
اني اكتشف ان كريك فى الاصل فيزيائي امر يجعلني سعيد للغاية لانه يؤكد لي سطوة وهيمنة فيزيائية علي العقول المبدعة فى مجال العلوم

لنرجع الي الجد
القصة الشخصية فى بداية الكتاب التي يحكي فيها كريك عن تطورات معرفته العلمية هي الافضل حتي من مناقشته لتفاصيل وحوارات اكتشافه للDNA كالحلقة الاساسية فى التطور الوراثي

كتاب رائع للغاية
Valia
A fascinating topic. I find the author's personality somewhat less fascinating, so I guess I'll have to read Watson's account of the events, too :)
Deb
It has been a while since I read this, but I loved it. If you have any interest in genetics or the process of scientific discovery, this book is definitely worth a read. What I remember is that the discovery of the genetic code was something that Crick and Watson were doing in their "free" time while they were working on other "have to do" projects. So as much as it as a story of discovery, it is also a story of passion and friendship.
Ahmad T
I guess when people hype up the book too much you end up a little bit disappointed. I really wanted to love the book especially for some of the wisdom about prejudice, bias ,and attachment to one's own ideas but i just couldn't.
Purple Osprey
It does what it says on the tin - it's a short memoir of Crick.
It's reasonably well written, I found it a bit confusing though, because some events are not in chronological order.
Gets boring in places as a memoir should ;)
Marilyn Campbell
Strongly focused on the ideas and work of his lifetime. Much more a book of ideas than a straight forward autobiography. Enjoyed it, but his egomaniacal colleague, Watson, has written more compellingly.
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Francis Harry Compton Crick OM FRS (8 June 1916 – 28 July 2004), was a British molecular biologist, physicist, and neuroscientist, and most noted for being one of the co-discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953. He, James D. Watson and Maurice Wilkins were jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nu ...more
More about Francis Crick...
Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature Of Molecules and Men Journal of Consciousness Studies: Controversies in Science and the Humanities (Volume 1,  No. 1, 1994) The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing

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“It is not easy to convey, unless one has experienced it, the dramatic feeling of sudden enlightenment that floods the mind when the right idea finally clicks into place. One immediately sees how many previously puzzling facts are neatly explained by the new hypothesis. One could kick oneself for not having the idea earlier, it now seems so obvious. Yet before, everything was in a fog.” 16 likes
“It is essential to understand our brains in some detail if we are to assess correctly our place in this vast and complicated universe we see all around us.” 7 likes
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