Genes, Girls, and Gamow

ISBN: 0198606931
ISBN 13: 9780198606932
By: James D. Watson

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About this book

An autobiographical account of Jim Watson's life, following on from The Double Helix, the story of his and Francis Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA (published in 1968). Here is Watson adjusting to new-found fame, carrying out tantalizing experiments and falling in love.

Reader's Thoughts


Surprisingly entertaining and tawdry. I thought it was a much better read than "The Double Helix" if only because Dr. Watson comes off less arrogant in this book.


Did you know that James Watson had a sore throat on a Thursday in 1953? He also had a sore throat several other times in the 50s.Did you know that he found the checkout girl, a local waitress, and several of his undergrad students attractive? He didn't do anything about it, but he's relatively sure they were totally into him.Did you know the intense personal details of his fringe acquaintances marriages falling apart? If not - those seem to be the one thing he goes into detail about in this book.Yes, you can learn all that and more, here in the equivalent of reading 3 years of a friend's Facebook feed - the most self-absorbed and unknowingly rude and insensitive friend you've ever had!There's very little about the search for RNA in here, and really not much about girls other than "I thought she might have liked me" about several of his friends' wives. He tells us about finding his wife in the last paragraph - and spends the rest of the time berating every girl too dumb to realize he should be slept with and prized. And that's..literally all "I came across a girl on the boat from England to America. We talked about the weather. I thought she might be interested, but then I didn't see her again. In truth, she was probably a bit bland for my tastes, not up to intellectual conversation. So, I was name-dropping some people - let me get back to that part."Over. and over. With no greater context. Whoever wrote the back cover deserves a bonus - they tricked me into thinking I'd found a challenging book from which I could learn fascinating things about genetics and how scientists are people just like us! Imagine!I guess the second half was attained, as I learned that some famous scientists are socially repugnant. But geeze, I wish I didn't read a book just to teach me that.I'm sorry, I've never given a book a 1 before, I'm just hoping to ward off anyone who might also be tricked by the back cover. The book is completely and utterly painful.It's so, so bad.


I really loved reading this book. Watson did a great job mixing the importance of the science involved with the humor and interest of the lives of the scientists involved. I was happily surprised at how many famous scientists were mentioned in the book and how interesting the relationships between them were.


I would much rather give this book 2.5 stars. It starts off well, but drags a lot. And becomes way too many anecdotes that aren't really interesting. Also, it is pretty gossipy, which amusing at first, gets old. I wish it had 50 pages shorter.

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