Summary of The Gene: by Siddhartha Mukherjee | Includes Key Takeaways & Analysis
“Nothing about the natural world, at first glance, suggests the existence of a gene.” – Siddhartha Mukherjee
“When power is discovered, man always turns on it […] The science of heredity will soon provide power on a stupendous scale; and in some country, at some time not, perhaps, far distant, that power will be applied to control the composition of a nation.” – William Bateson
“Genetic knowledge has historically been secured largely through the experimental manipulation of peas, primroses, fruit flies, nematodes and micro-organisms and, while Mukherjee has little to say about the hugely important agricultural technologies resulting from plant and animal genetics, the ultimate prize of genetics has always involved ourselves – how to understand ourselves and how to make better versions of ourselves.” – Steven Shapin, The Guardian
“The gene is, and is not, the determiner of our identity. It behooves us to accept this paradox and understand it. As we learn how our genome defines us, we also learn how we transcend our genome.” – James Gleick, New York Times
***Don’t miss out on the profound insight of Siddhartha Mukherjee’s #1 New York Times Bestseller book, The Gene: An Intimate History. The Pulitzer Prize winning author dives deep into the history, impact, and story of the most groundbreaking human discovery in generations – the gene. Quickly soak up the essence of his deep insight…purchase your copy of FastReads’ 15-Minute Summary with Analysis & Key Takeaways today. ***
Book Summary Overview:
The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee begins with a detailed history of the gene and finishes with a topical survey of the gene in the latter half of the 20th century. Part One, “The “Missing Science of Heredity,” begins with the discovery of the “gene” in 1864. It continues with Charles Darwin and the many 19th century scientists who raised controversial questions about the origins of life and the journey of mankind. In the 20th century, American and British scientists inverted theories of genetics to promote eugenics, the science of using genetics and hereditary to “improve” a population.
The British devised theories in response to the rise of the middle class, while the Americans initiated sterilization programs to combat the influx of immigrants threatening the gene pool. Propaganda about the role of genes and hereditary captured the American imagination. By the 1920s, children were examined like animals at agricultural fairs—the most perfect paraded around as ideal specimens—and laws had been passed to prevent the birth of “imbeciles” and to ghettoize “the feebleminded.”
The Gene: An Intimate History weaves together scientific studies, gripping narratives, personal prose, and demanding questions to tell one of human history’s most important stories, one with the greatest consequences to our past, present, and future.
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