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A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  3,247 ratings  ·  503 reviews
Two scientists explore the potential of a revolutionary genetics technology capable of easily and affordably manipulating DNA in human embryos to prevent specific diseases, addressing key concerns about related ethical and societal repercussions.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Marcell With a basic knowledge and interest in biology and maybe the willingness to search on Google if in doubt, I think this book should be accessible to ev…moreWith a basic knowledge and interest in biology and maybe the willingness to search on Google if in doubt, I think this book should be accessible to everyone.
I found the Author pretty good at explaining complex ideas in simple terms. (less)
Viswanathan K. The two books are not really related. But if you do plan to read both, read "The Gene" first. It would give you a great overview of genes & genetics. …moreThe two books are not really related. But if you do plan to read both, read "The Gene" first. It would give you a great overview of genes & genetics. "A Crack in Creation" is about the new tech called CRISPR that allows to edit specific genes.(less)

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Mario the lone bookwolf
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 0-biology
One of the essential key technologies for the future of humanity

The previous methods before CRISPR were also not exactly precision instruments. Be it the use of radioactivity or toxicity, the gene gun, PCR, TALEN, CNF or genome editing. The susceptibility for errors was different, but in principle, the researchers always played to a part the crazy scientist who created new life. The critical difference is that a cheap mass application is possible with CRISPR.

Imagine a biotech toy box for childr
Clif Hostetler
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This book's coauthor, Jennifer Doudna, together with Emmanuelle Charpentier published a seminal 2012 paper that demonstrated that CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) could be used for programmable gene editing. The whole field of CRISPR has since become the hottest focus of biological research because its use now provides a relatively low cost and simple way to make precise changes to the double helix DNA strand.

This book is written in the first person voice of Dou
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book, written by the scientist who discovered that the CRISPR reaction could be applied as a powerful gene-editing tool. In the first half of the book, Jennifer Doudna writes a powerful story about the history of gene manipulation and eventually, gene editing. With this technique, scientists can edit an individual DNA letter, replacing or inserting mutation or error in the DNA code. The first half of the book is very technical, and I cannot say that I followed it completely. ...more
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biology
On October 22nd 2019 an article ran in The Guardian announcing the first birthdays of twin girls. What made them special is that they are the first humans to be born from gene edited embryos, the first reported case of humans determining their own evolution. The girls’ genes were modified to make them resistant to HIV. Their children will be able to inherit the same trait. The gene edit may make them more susceptible to other diseases such as West Nile virus. How many other ways this may affect ...more
Andrej Karpathy
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very similar to Watson's "The Double Helix", this book is a part story of discovery and part a textbook, in this case on the topic of CRISPR, from a scientist deeply and technically involved in the technology. The first half of the book explains the basics of DNA, the central dogma, the massive, ancient (and still ongoing) virus-bacteria molecular warfare, the historical context of gene editing research, and finally how CRISPR was discovered and why it is such a big deal.

CRISPR evolved as part o
Adeyemi Ajao
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Last time a book gave me this feeling of awe and amazement was reading Stephen Hawkin's "Brief history of time" 20 years ago. It speaks volumes to Jennifer's ability to distilled the essential on this complex topic that I left feeling I had a good grasp on the subject (albeit with my mind racing over a million questions). A must read.
Peter Tillman
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent book, though the technical stuff takes some work, and perhaps some background in biochemistry, to follow completely. The review to read here in Max's,
Why don’t you read his writeup first, while I write up my notes and do my homework? I’ll wait.

Biochemist Jennifer Doudna is one of the pioneers in gene-editing research. She and her colleagues discovered the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing tool in 2012. The names are just chemical acronyms. You will lea
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to Bria by: Goodreads giveaway
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway! Definitely a subject I'd be interested in but maybe I wouldn't have pursued it otherwise, so thanks Goodreads.

Me being me, I found myself turned off by the personal element of the book. It's a good writing technique - it personalizes all the scientific information, which could be otherwise dry or hard to follow for some readers, and lends a natural timeline around which to structure the unfolding of the tale of CRISPR. So, objectively, very well done. Sub
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great explanation of CRISPR Cas9 that recounts the research that uncovered it and makes a case for determining how we will responsibly control and wield this powerful tool in future gene editing. The ethical and moral questions are very difficult, and Doudna/Sternberg don't pretend to have solid answers, and instead encourage more discussion and, above all, communication because governments and society as a whole will have to drive policy (and they should do so in an informed way).

This was riv
R Nair
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was the ground breaking paper (not sure if I should post the link to the full article here) published by the authors of this book along with other researchers that made way for a technology that has alarmed scientists with its potential to the extent that comparisons with nuclear fission are ubiquitous. Being in an unrelated field of Engineering, the scientific article was difficult to fully comprehend over the years since it was published, but having
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Pretty dry and hyper-technical (or at least poorly explained) re: the details surrounding the CRISPR discovery and how CRISPR works: I learned much, much more from Siddhartha Mukherjee’s “The Gene” re: genetics in general and what all this DNA/RNA stuff does (which then makes understanding CRISPR relatively straightforward). The rest of this book, concerning all the ways CRISPR is (or will be) being used, was much more interesting and worth reading.

If you’re interested in CRISPR but don’t want t
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-science
I found this book equally informative and annoying. So much GREAT information. Crispr is nothing short of miraculous. Have you ever studied viruses or plasmids and been amazed at how a virus knows how to cut into a gene sequence and take over a cell and eventually tons of cells inside an entire organisms? This is that on a much more intense scale. Absolutely love this technology!

The writing not was as great as I had hoped. I liked to be wowed without having to sift through bragging or what seem
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jennifer Doudna didnt set out with the intent to create something so world changing when she became a biochemist. In fact, genetics wasnt even on her radar. Instead she was interested in bacteria and viruses. It was through her research on viruses that she accidentally found herself in this entirely different scientific arena. From there CRISPR was born, and the revolution of gene editing has been spreading its veins into just about every field of research and medicine.

I loved this book because
Tom Quinn
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am very picky with what I bring on airplanes.

As precious overhead storage space is never guaranteed, I whittle down my carryon to the barest of underseat essentials. Space gets tight, quarters get cramped, tempers get short, and so my reading material must pack a mega payload of enjoyment to qualify as flightworthy.

Nonfiction is my go-to, especially readable contemporary nonfiction in which the narrator takes an active role in the story. It needs to be dense enough that I feel I'm learning so
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, non-fiction
I really wanted to love this book... but I didn't. I couldn't help but thinking the whole time I spent reading it that it seemed an awful lot like reading "The Double Helix" by James Watson, who only gave passing mention to the contributions of Rosalind Franklin - whose work without which he and Crick would not have "discovered" that DNA is in a double helix form. Doudna does mention the work of others, but it's clear she considers it her discovery. While I appreciated her attempting to discuss ...more
Thomas Ray
A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution, Jennifer A. Doudna, Samuel H. Sternberg, 2017, 281pp. (246pp. text + endmatter), ISBN 9780544716940, Dewey 576.5072, Library-of-Congress QH440

The authors are biochemists.

Viruses can splice new genetic information into the DNA of host cells. p. 16. Eight percent of the human genome is viral. p. 19.

Streptococcus thermophilus makes milk into yogurt or cheese. Streptococcus pyogenes causes .5 million human deaths annu
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you haven’t heard of CRISPR before, chances are you’ll be hearing of it again pretty soon. It’s starting to be used in clinical trials to edit the genes of human embryos, and it’s already being used in countless research projects. It’s an amazing tool which could completely revolutionise gene editing, allowing very precise changes to be made with very little unintended impact. Doudna is one of the people who has been involved in developing CRISPR and recognising its potential, and her book co ...more
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I want to say this book is a must-read. It is really, really good. The scientific explanations are concise and distill what I'm sure are really complex processes into something digestible - and does a much better job of this than Siddhartha Mukherjee's book, in my opinion. The technology of gene editing is going to have some serious ramifications in perhaps the near future. Jennifer Doudna gives a future with gene-editing a thoughtful treatment and encourages us all to understand and be a part o ...more
Kerry Oliver
Jul 11, 2017 rated it liked it
The biology of CRISPR/CAS in book are well done, but the ethics of its use less so -both in terms of clarity and thoughtfulness (not surprising given authors' background), but also some very wishful thinking (including little consideration of the inevitability of the race to the bottom (due market forces and large differences in regulation among countries). nonetheless, cat is out of bag, so the limits of the technology will ultimately decide where this goes.
If I have one big takeaway from this book, it's this: there needs to be a LOT more interaction between scientists and sociologists. While I appreciated and was fascinated by the science detailed in this book, I was frankly incredulous about Doudna's reaction to the effects CRISPR have wrought in the world because I do not see how anyone could have failed to see them coming. Her obliviousness (honestly, I don't know what else to call it) lends credence to the idea that scientists are disconnected ...more
Will Simpson
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
From studying how bacteria fight off viral infections to development of the Life (not personal but humanity) changing technologies of CRISPR/Cas9. This book a great, mostly understandable primer on the development and technologies used. Understandable even for a 61 year old who has no microbiology background at all. My experience of this book comes in 3 parts.

1. In the first part, I learned some about microbiology. Exciting to see advances, I found myself caught up in the excitement. Who knew th
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, recommendation

A Crack in Creation should be on your to read list. If any topic is going to be the corner stone of future relevance, this is it and can have significant impacts. CRISPR will be the name that will resonate from our generation in the field of medicine and echo through the passage of time. This new technology will change us and everything that has crippled the human species since of humble beginnings. There will be arguments for the good and bad, but ultimately it is the good that will serve th
Ray LaManna
Apr 16, 2020 rated it liked it
This book will tell you everything you will ever need to know about CRISPR, the revolutionary new, and controversial, gene-editing tool. Doudna give a good history and background of the science leading up to her team's discoveries...BUT I must warn you that you need to know something about microbiology to understand this process. Without it, you're pretty much lost.

The other issue I have with this book is that Doudna does not delve very deeply into the ethical implications of editing our DNA...
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first third is some heavy, fantastic science (as if science could be anything else). The second third is kind of an autobiography which read quickly and was fairly engaging. The last third was policy/philosophy discussion which was also well done if a bit overly-done.

Very enjoyable book. I now know 1000 times more about CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) and what it does which was mostly the goal. I also know more about Doudna which is also great and many of t
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you want to learn about the future of gene therapy and gene editing, read this book. It was published in 2016, and things are moving quickly in this field, but the basics, the problems, and ethical concerns are addressed here.

Written by leaders in the field Dr. Doudna and Dr. Sternberg, it provides clear and concise explanations. I did need to go back and refresh what I may have learned and forgotten about bacteria or I may just have been learning about the developments that have taken place
Craig Werner
A Crack in Creation combines two distinct, but related, books. The first, a first cousin to scientific mysteries like The Double Helix and Voyage to the Great Attractor, tracks the unfolding path to the CRISPR gene-editing technology that's in the process of changing the world as I type this sentence. That's probably not hyperbole. The pace of discovery of new applications of this stunningly powerful tool surpasses any technological change I've followed, including the exponential explosion of di ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
​I was a bit disappointed by this book. The subject matter is interesting, but I felt that the interesting details of the science were often absent- sections would say "an experiment found that" without any details of how the experiment was designed, or why it had been designed a certain way. The section on the history of gene editing felt more like a list of scientists than a recounting of additive knowledge; I would have preferred the latter.

I did find it very interesting that we knew that dou
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Mostly from the author's personally-involved-lab-science perspective, focused history of gene editing, specific tech capabilities with CRISPR, and societal implications of a tool this accurate and cheap. Author is making a serious effort to speak publicly beyond the scientific community about potential rules and implications, in general she sees plant/animal modifications as obvious (wheat, pork - already fully/exclusively domesticated species), is worried about germline / gene drive changes to ...more
By one of CRISPR's creators, a two-part book: First, some scientific explanation of gene editing, presented historically (rather than as a science lecture, though it's reasonably detailed for my background.) Then, discussion of possible future uses and the safety, ethical, & legal they raise, which doesn't reach and definitive conclusion but leave you mostly to your own thoughts. ...more
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is simply amazing research and I am in awe of Doudna. The book is really sciency, which is good, but I was less interested in the play by play than in the possibilities (no, I am not a scientist). Nevertheless, a great read.
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Jennifer Anne Doudna is an American biochemist.

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