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Genome: the Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  12,346 ratings  ·  465 reviews
The human genome, the complete set of genes housed in twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, is nothing less than an autobiography of our species.

Spelled out in a billion three-letter words using the four-letter alphabet of DNA, the genome has been edited, abridged, altered and added to as it has been handed down, generation to generation, over more than three billion years.
Paperback, 344 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published 1999)
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A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonA Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingCosmos by Carl SaganThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Science Books - Non-Fiction Only
30th out of 858 books — 1,963 voters
The Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonFreakonomics by Steven D. LevittIn Cold Blood by Truman CapoteA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Non-Fiction (non biography)
121st out of 2,877 books — 4,937 voters

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Community Reviews

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I wish I could give this book 6 stars! It's really fantastic, and I want to recommend it to EVERYONE, but in my heart I know the tone would bore some of my friends... I suggest thinking of the author/narrator as a cool guy you'd be friends with telling you all this information, instead of a nerdy/haughty *scientist* ...He's not a scientist, he's a writer & former editor, & this isn't a textbook, but it could be--he's done his research & includes all his references. Just slightly out- ...more
Oct 03, 2011 Kay rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in genetics, intellectually curious people
A really great introduction to genetics. One of my friends, who studied chemistry in college, recommended the book to me. The book is divided into 23 chapters, representing the 23 different sets of chromosomes in the human body. The concept fascinated me, and I thought that if the author had enough of a sense of humor to write a book this way, why not give it a try?

I'm not going to pretend that I understood 100% of the book, but the parts I did understand, I appreciated. While the writer does pr
Nehal Elekhtyar

إنتهيت من قراءة أمتع كتاب علمى قرأته حتى الآن... كــ قارئة قبل ان اكون باحثة فى المجال العلمى تطرقت لقراءات متعددة وبأساليب مختلفة عن الجينوم وفى الغالب كنت اجدها تحمل الطابع العلمى البحت الجاف نوعاً ما وبالرغم من استعدادى للمعرفة الا اننى كنت اصاب بالملل ولابد من القراءة على فترات متقطعة .... لكن ان أقرأ كتاب علمى عن الجينوم تفوق صفحاته 400 صفحة وكأنى أقرأ رواية جذابة تأخذنى كل كلمة فيها ... قطعاً انه مات ريدلى القدير فى استعراض موضوع هام كهذا عن الجينوم او المادة الوراثية بإسلوب روائى رائع بدأ
Even though this was written and published over 15 years ago, I found it relevant and revealing. Ridley is one of the better science writers, and this is assuredly his master work. Each chapter highlights a specific gene found on each of the 23 pairs of chromosomes. He repeatedly states that the book is not about disease, but it ultimately becomes a major theme and topic. The final chapters that discuss genetic determinism, eugenics, and nature vs nurture are treated with upmost care, empathy, a ...more
This was an interesting and understandable survey of human genetic heritage. There were a few boring pieces that recounted things I'd been taught repeatedly in biology classes - I can see the utility of this as not all readers would have taken those classes, I just didn't enjoy reading about those things again as much as I enjoyed the more specific examples. The last few chapters contained some biased language (calling people who tore up GM crops "eco-terrorists" rather than simply "vandals," fo ...more
Sometimes I have to stop after even a paragraph. It's a strong feeling of becoming enraptured by the information, connections and insights afforded by this extremely lucid and stimulating layperson's introduction to the human genome. An extremely compressed three page preface provides a glossary and explanation of key terms, and can be returned to as needed. Each chapter then takes one chromosome and selects from each a particular gene to describe with a much broader emphasis upon what this actu ...more
It is interesting to me how, despite our best efforts, our preconceptions can totally shape our experiences. I was impressed when two biology majors in my school independently recommended this to book to me. Must be good, I thought. So, in the interest of honesty, I must disclose that my inflated expectations were probably the biggest contributor to my lackluster reaction. I had high hopes, and Ridley only partially delivered.

In popular science, an easy way to divide books is by the occupation o
Човешкото тяло е съставено от около 100 трилиона клетки, във вътрешността на всяко от които има ядро. Във всяко ядро има два пълни комплекта от човешкия ГЕНОМ (изключение правят само яйцеклетките и сперматозоидите, които имат по един комплект, и червените кръвни клетки, които нямат нито един). Единият комплект е дошъл от майката, а другият от бащата. Но какво е геном?

Представете си, че геномът е книга.
Тази книга съдържа 23 глави, наречени хромозоми.
Всяка глава (хромозома) съдържа хиляди ис
Mark Fallon
Are your body and brain pre-wired for certain tendencies? That’s one of the questions raised in Matt Ridley’s Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. Using a gene from each of the 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up our DNA as a launching point, Ridley discusses what we’ve learned about the history of the human race. Some concepts about heredity are confirmed, while others are discarded.

Through the Human Genome Project, scientists have mapped out the complete set of human genes.
I really enjoyed this book. I would say it is so far the best book I have read this year and a great introduction to genetics. Quite a lot of the stuff in this book has been covered in other books I have read, most notably by Richard Dawkins, however the writing was fresh and I learned a hell of a lot of stuff throughout this book. For example, did you know that the placenta is actually a parasite, the result of male antagonistic genes battling the female's X chromosomes by redirecting more reso ...more
An interesting idea for a popular book about genetics - 23 chapters, one for each pair of chromosomes - that is realized into a not particularly good book. I appreciate that it's trying to be generalist, but it's generalist to the point of failing to convey ideas. Ridley moves from topic to topic like a student who has been told that he must include a long list of them in his paper. And I'm afraid the writing is just not good enough for any of the briefly discussed ideas to stick in your brain, ...more
النسخة الالكترونية منه ناقصة فقط تناولت اربعة فصول من اصل 23 فصلاً
يجزء الكاتب كتابه الى عدد الكروموسومات الثلاث والعشرين
ويرتبط كل مروموسوم بمعنى فالاول كان الحياة والثاني النوع والثالث التاريخ والرابع المصير...
ويعرض الاكتشافات والامراض وطبيعة الجينات المرتبطه وعلاقتها بالامراض...

اتمنى ان يتوفر كاملاً
Charlotte Osborn-bensaada
Rideley's trope is to connect circa 2000 what we are beginning to know about the human geonomes if you will through each of the 23 human chromosomes. Some it works very well, I think I have a much better understanding of the implications of all types issues related to genetics. I also realized afterward that we as a society don't even have the beginnings of a social discussion taking place even as the science races forward. The challenge with a book like Ridley's is that it based on what we knew ...more
A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain an organism. In 1953 Francis Crick and James Watson decoded the structure of DNA and with this discovery Crick exclaimed “We’ve discovered the secret of life.” What they discovered was that the main purpose of genes is to store the recipe for making proteins. The proteins are what determine the color of our hair, fight infection, and carry oxygen as ...more
Koen Crolla
I gave Ridley's The Red Queen five stars when I read it half a decade ago, and The Rational Optimist one (and a longish review) when I read it in 2011. Genome, his most famous book, isn't quite as awful as the latter, but Ridley's brain-damaged politics shine through often enough to irritate.

His insistence on lauding free entreprise (even where it only exists in his imagination) and condescendingly cautioning against ``big government'' at every turn isn't even the most obnoxious part this time;
Jan 09, 2009 Iain rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in genetics, with no real background in biological sciences
Shelves: would-recommend
A spur of the moment buy at the airport when going on holiday, I couldnt put the book down once I'd started. This is more than a book about the human genome, its also an analysis of the social, political and scientific implications of understanding the human genetic map.

Each area he analyses from health and healing to death and immortalit, from instinct and intelligence to personality and behavior is illustrated with examples of experiments used to prove the point and is analysed with a laymans
I love this stuff! Science written for non-specialists that isn't dumbed down at all. I've studied the evolution of humans, especially of language, and am now writing a book on the evolution of dogs. I've also read Bryan Sykes and other books pertaining to genomes, but still found myself thoroughly engaged in Matt Ridley's treatment of the topic. I learned a great deal from this book despite my other readings on the topic. Ridley cleverly writes each chapter about one set of chromosomes and how ...more
The rapid evolution of the science of microbiology over the last half-century is one of the most phenomenal stories of our times. Although much of it remains a mystery to the general public, Matt Ridley attempts to explain a few of the most important discoveries about the human genome in a way that leaves out the calculations, the formulae, and the (dare I say it?) tedium of actual lab work. This is a book written for the layman, in a language and style accessible to anyone. It is with good reas ...more
So, what are you?

A complicated biological machine beset by innate programming and external conditions bent both on keeping you alive and eventually killing you?

Or are you the creation of a supreme being, both soul and body, possessed of a free will?

And though Matt Ridley, in his 2000 book “Genome: The Autobiography of A Species in 23 Chapters,” leans to the left in this equation, he still writes an incredibly balanced and above all scientific book about the human genome, what we know about it, h
Genome provides a helpful introduction to the world of modern genetics (especially if, like me, one is borderline scientifically illiterate). Matt Ridley is at his best when explaining scientific discoveries; he breaks down concepts and shows his journalistic skills (he wrote for The Economist for several years) by employing useful metaphors consistently throughout: the genome is a book, written in linear, digital form; replication is photocopying; and translation is reading. Genome's weak spots ...more
Христо Блажев
Прекрасният генетичен свят на Мат Ридли

Книжният пазар у нас като че ли не се влияе от кризата – поне на пръв поглед. В България непрекъснато се издава какво ли не, а тиражите, въпреки че са твърде отдалечени от западните, понякога достигат повече от задоволителни числа. И все пак, под “какво ли не” и под “задоволителни числа” не се има предвид нито разнообразие, нито същински бестселъри. Имаме по-скоро капризни хитове – спорадични, подвластни на социалните
1999 was a great year for science writing.

Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe was released and the ideas of warped space and time were made not only excitingly clear and accessible, but (I must bite my tongue in shame when I say this), erotically mind-blowing.

Matt Ridley's book Genome does for DNA what Brian Greene did for string theory. With the same clarity and accessibility and, oh hell with the shame, erotically mind-blowing ideas, Ridley offers a clear exposition of how the entire human gen
David Macy-beckwith
If you have any interest in understanding the fundamentals of genetics, I strongly recommend this book. Matt Ridley does a truly outstanding job in distilling what I suspect are extremely complex biological and chemical processes into clear and understandable concepts. As the subtitle notes, the book is organized into 23 chapters (one for each chromosome in the human genome) and each chapter delves into just one gene in that particular chromosome. A wide variety of topics are covered , including ...more
This is an interesting account of what we are learning about the human genome, actually published on the even of the release of the Human Genome Project's research. A fascinating account of how genes express themselves in our bodies, how we "self assemble" from our genetic blueprints, the interesting ways genetic 'diseases' are expressed differently in men and women, and the "warfare of the sexes" that go on within our genes. Ridley has some very thoughtful comments on how our genetic informatio ...more
Genome is an walk along the idea of "What can DNA do to a person later on?" If you ever wanted to know what Chromosome 8 was for, this is your book. If you were never interested much in "all that science-y stuff" I would not suggest Genome for you. It is written in such a way that everyone can pick it up and learn something, but it isn't among my favorites.

If you like non-fiction and just learning something cool, pick up Zero...
Ridley presents a reasonable coarse outline of genetics using memorable analogies and examples from macro-phenomena that most people would be familiar with.

When Ridley strays from the biology, he waxes lyrical and makes careless factual and logical errors that call into question the legitimacy of all of his other conclusions. The psychologist, neuroscientist, ancient historian, environmental scientist, philosopher (and I suspect, the modern biologist) will cringe through significant portions of
أحمد ناجي
كتاب مبهر، كتابة علمية دقيقة تجمع بين تاريخ تطور العلوم والفلسفة والسياسية، وأسلوب سلس وساخر,, نظرة معمقة على تاريخ تطور الحياة لا الجنس البشري فقط
دار كلمات الحقيقية مستمرة في تقديم ترجمات علمية مبهرة وعظيمة
Mneera Khaled
I wish I could give this a 6 star rating, or even more!
Truly amazing. A must read for scientific book lovers, especially those who are interested in genetics, evolution, and medicine.
Sara Aljaryan
الجينوم : هي كلمة تطلق على ذلك الجزء الصغير جدا من علم واسع يدعى علم الوراثة ,,

برأي قد يكون صعب على اي شخص غير علمي او لم يأخذ فكرة مبسطة عن هذا العلم ان يفهم الادنين والثايمين والخ من المصطلحات المذكورة ,, لكن بالتأكيد من السهل ان نفهم ان كل شيء في الحياة مبني على الوراثة والجينات وال DNA
او ما تدعى بالمادة الوراثية الموجودة في كل شي تنبض به الحياة ,,, وبحكم دراستي في هذا الاختصاص من الممكن ان اصف الكتاب رغم ان به جزء مفقود ,,بانة جيد جدا و يسلط الضوء والتسأل لدى القراء الجيدين الفضولين بعيدين
Lina Siyam
I thought it will be interesting .. Make me understand all the 23 chromosomes in easy and simple way .. as a story or something .. But it's NOT! Boring -_-
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The Hon. Matthew White Ridley (born 7 February 1958, in Northumberland) is an English science writer, businessman and aristocrat. Ridley was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford where he received a doctorate in zoology before commencing a career in journalism. Ridley worked as the science editor of The Economist from 1984 to 1987 and was then its Washington correspondent from 1987 to 1989 ...more
More about Matt Ridley...
The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code

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“A true scientist is bored by knowledge; it is the assault on ignorance that motivates him - the mysteries that previous discoveries have revealed.” 30 likes
“The genome is a book that wrote itself, continually adding, deleting and amending over four billion years.” 10 likes
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