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

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,190 ratings  ·  373 reviews
A trailblazing biologist grapples with her role in the biggest scientific discovery of our era: a cheap, easy way of rewriting genetic code, with nearly limitless promise and peril.

Not since the atomic bomb has a technology so alarmed its inventors that they warned the world about its use. Not, that is, until the spring of 2015, when biologist Jennifer Doudna called for a
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…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 &…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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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,190 ratings  ·  373 reviews

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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
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.
Rachel (Kalanadi)
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
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
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"CRISPR Cas 9. This book is its story and mine. It is also yours. Because it won’t be long before the repercussions from this technology reach your doorstep too.”

Die Genschere CIRSPR CAS9 ist wohl die größte und wichtigste wissenschaftliche Entdeckung unseres Jahrhunderts, vergleichbar mit der Entdeckung der DNA durch Watson und Crick (naja eigentlich durch Rosalind Franklin, aber dieses Fass will ich jetzt nicht aufmachen) oder der Entwicklung rekombinanter DNA.
Als Jennifer Doudna, Leiterin e
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
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
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
A CRACK IN CREATION: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution. (2017). Doudna & Sternberg. ***.
This work is a short history of CRISPR, a term that refers to a region of bacterial DNA. The acronym stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.” The author attempts to show what these repeats are by the use of simple drawings and a further definition of the use of the term palindrome. Although I had worked in AgBiotech towards the end of my career, th
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
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
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
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.

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
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
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
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
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.
Science (Fiction) Comedy Horror and Fantasy Geek/Nerd
One of the essential key technologies for the future of humanity

Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

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 to error was different, but in principle, the researchers always played to a part the crazy scientist who created new life. The critical
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Crack in Creation--Gene Editing by Jennifer A. Doudna is, for the nonscientist, a perplexing but stimulating book that comes in two parts. The first part is the fairly technical description of how the gene editing technique known as CRISPR was developed; by means of CRISPR, genes can be severed and altered. This has relevance to genetic-based diseases as diverse as Huntington's and dwarfism, but CRISPR is still in its early stages. Actual "cures" appear to be some years off. Further, the modal ...more
Harshdeep Singh
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating story of one of most profound biological discoveries of our time - scientists across the world building on each others' work to understand and reverse engineer an immunity mechanism in bacteria to edit genes. Later, the book talks about the possibilities in short and long terms, and the implications of us being able to program ourselves and our future generations. The author, at the center of all of this, can articulate the nuances. An account of her dream in the later part of the bo ...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.
Books on Stereo
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
A Crack in Creation is a intriguing look at the power of gene editing and its future application.
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, audible
Despite my rating, I think you should read this book. Not because it's the most amazing book, but because I think everyone should know about what's happening in gene editing with CRISPR-Cas9 and this is a decent way to learn about it. Seriously. I'm completely convinced that this is game changing technology that is going to change everything really really soon.

I'm going to go searching for more reading because she talked a lot about potential concerns without ever really grappling with them. I w
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Hard to rate this book as far as like or dislike goes. It is informative, if heavily biased - but on the plus side it is stated to be so by the authors. I appreciate the information, and the attempt at making a complicated new technology more accessible to the layperson. I do think the authors' fall into a trap of not seeing the forest through the trees, however. My biggest problem is the constant reliance on the argument, "We've done this for years/decades/centuries, so why shouldn't we now?" J ...more
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
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book invokes the fear of nuclear war in its summary, "Not since the atomic bomb has a technology so alarmed its inventors that they warned the world about its use." However, this book DOES NOT properly address the potential for CRISPR-enhanced bio-warfare or bio-accidents within its contents. It does a pretty good attempt of addressing the bioethics of "controlling evolution" but leaves much wanting in the ethical discussion of more dangerous problems.

Doudna does an amazing job writing a me
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
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
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
A fascinating but anxiety inducing read. The technology that allows us to edit our Human DNA easily and relatively inexpensively is now here. This technology has the potential to help cure numerous genetic diseases and disorders from cancer to HIV to Muscular Distrophy, however it also comes with a host of ethical issues. The author did a wonderful job explaining how the technology was discovered, the potential medical uses as well as the potential issues and repercussions on our evolution as a ...more
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Science and Inquiry: June 2018 - A Crack in Creation 5 112 Jun 17, 2018 07:34PM  
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“The disjunction between scientific consensus and public opinion on the topic of GMOs is disturbing, to say the least.” 3 likes
“The power to control our species’ genetic future is awesome and terrifying. Deciding how to handle it may be the biggest challenge we have ever faced.” 3 likes
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