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In this classic book, the distinguished science writer Horace Freeland Judson tells the story of the birth and early development of molecular biology in the US, the UK, and France. The fascinating story of the golden period from the revelation of the double helix of DNA to the cracking of the genetic code and first glimpses of gene regulation is told largely in the words of the main players, all of whom Judson interviewed extensively. The result is a book widely regarded as the best history of recent biological science yet published.
This commemorative edition, honoring the memory of the author who died in 2011, contains essays by his daughter Olivia Judson, Matthew Meselson, and Mark Ptashne and an obituary by Jason Pontin. It contains all the content added to previous editions, including essays on some of the principal historical figures involved, such as Rosalind Franklin, and a sketch of the further development of molecular biology in the era of recombinant DNA.
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In the foreword to this expanded edition of his 1979 masterpiece, Horace Freeland Judson says, "I feared I might seem the official historian of the movement"--molecular biology, that is. If by official he means "authoritative; definitive; the standard against which all others are measured" then his fears are warranted. Detailed without being overly technical, humane without being fulsome, The Eighth Day of Creation tells of molecular biology's search for the secret of life. "The drama has everything--exploration of the unknown; low comedy and urgent seriousness; savage competition, vaulting intelligence, abrupt changes of fortune, sudden understandings; eccentric and brilliant people, men of honor and of less than honor; a heroine, perhaps wronged; and a treasure to be achieved that was unique and transcendent." And in Judson this drama found its Shakespeare.Review:
"A historian has mused that the memory of man is too frail a thread on which to hang history; Judson's achievement, in drawing out the memories of so many participants in the epic of molecular biology and weaving them into a single robust skein, is magisterial. His work fittingly commemorates a golden age which already seems as remote as that of Darwin and Huxley."
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