The Secret of Life

Howard Markel

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WW Norton & Co
18 April 2023
ISBN: 9781324050391
576 pages

From the publisher

Biologist James Watson and physicist Francis Crick's 1953 revelation about the double helix structure of DNA is the foundation of virtually every advance in our modern understanding of genetics and molecular biology. But how did Watson and Crick do it-and why were they the ones who succeeded? In truth, the discovery of DNA's structure is the story of a race among five scientists for advancement, fame and immortality: Watson, Crick, Rosalind Franklin, Maurice Wilkins and Linus Pauling. They were fascinating and brilliant, with strong personalities that often clashed. But it is Rosalind Franklin who becomes a focal point for Howard Markel. The Secret of Life is a story of genius and perseverance but also a saga of cronyism, misogyny, anti-Semitism and misconduct. Markel brilliantly recounts the intense intellectual journey-and the fraught personal relationships-that resulted in the discovery of DNA.