Walter Isaacson, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

Has to be the laziest writing this side of typing, but not going to disrespect the sheer volume of interesting information about the development and applications of CRISPR. I have little idea about the science, and know enough to see that metaphors (“a cutting frenzy”) are probably not at all apt, but still, you get the idea. He introduces a whole cast of characters, and gives up short profiles. A long book though… frequently repetitive. I was glad that he dropped the “curiosity about the hilahila” bit, which after the third time was becoming labored? The casual stereotyping is also out of hand. Why does he feel the need to ascribe personality traits to a cultural group? He never met a shy, introspective, self-effacing American? Probably there are shorter versions of this book that do a better job? For all his access, the biography is fairly superficial. And the discussions of ethics! Oh my goodness! If someone took a class on ethics in college they are somehow ready for the discussion? At least have the courage to recognize they all seem to be amateurs, because nothing suggests they devote anything more than a few minutes a day to causal introspection.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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