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Publisher's Summary

Popular scientist Matt Ridley is renowned as much for accessibility as for learning. Following the success of The Red Queen and The Origins of Virtue, Genome is a Sunday Times top 10 best seller and a Guardian Book of the Year.

Genome unravels the secrets of human nature without the usual reams of technical jargon. It shows outstanding breakthroughs in gene research, how we've gone from knowing almost nothing to knowing almost everything, and how our genes reveal more about our past, our evolution, and even our minds. Every important event in human history is written into our genes, whether it happened four billion or a few hundred years ago. All you need to know is where to look.

©1999 Matt Ridley (P)2000 W. F. Howes Ltd

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  • Earthma
  • 18-12-20

Mixed feelings about this book.

Bearing in mind this book is two decades old, I wanted to use it as a background and basic explanation for the genome, which the book did very well.
However, there were a few horrific moments in the book that almost persuaded me to return it, which were some (not all) of the author’s personal views. Also some very questionable ‘facts’ that are absolutely not factual. I suppose this demonstrates how different attitudes were 20 years ago, and should be a warning not to place too much literal faith in expert views. I have read so many academic papers that hold (and ‘prove’) opposite opinions that I stopped being shocked about this a long time ago.
The first major ‘eek’ moment was when the author aired his views about pesticides used on crops, and his opinion of the opponents of them.
I winced at the ‘othering’ language about disabilities but again, expected this is a book of this age. He had decent views about eugenics, but then everything went to pot in a matter of a paragraph in the final chapter. He agreed that mothers of autistic children are indeed cold, (as per the ‘refrigerator mother’ theory) ... I mean, how does one really make that kind of a judgment??. And his opinion of why this is the case was even more astounding; in that autistic children are so awful, exhausting and such hard work, that the mother literally gives up and loses her warmth... !!!
So I won’t bthis to my autistic children or sharing it with my peer autistic parent/child families.
Summary: Archaic but interesting and informative in parts. Quite offensive in other parts.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Papa Domingo
  • 17-03-19

Astounding, even 19 years after publishing!

As a Master's student in molecular biology, the level of detail in this book was sufficient to stave off boredom, yet is presented in a style that is accessible to those with limited prior knowledge of genetics or biology. This is partly achieved by the author's concerted effort to minimalise the use of jargon, which would undoubtedly deter many readers (or listeners, as the case may be). Despite the incredible progress that has been made since this book was written, it is still relevant and accurate, as Ridley has been careful not to jump to any premature conclusions from the knowledge that was available to him at the time. I finally got round to getting this as an audiobook after letting the print copy gather dust on my bookshelf for a couple of years and listening to it was a rewarding experience. Excellent content and brilliant narration. For anyone who enjoys this and has not read Matt Ridley's "The Red Queen", that book is also a timeless classic and a thrilling read, accessible to all interested people regardless of existing levels of knowledge.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Abrar
  • 25-01-21

Renewed my interest in genetics

Although this subject was only covered in one module while I was in sixth form, I found it fascinating. This audiobook is easy to follow for me as a layperson and has given me the appetite for more.