Review – Genome

Posted December 28, 2016 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Genome by Matt RidleyGenome: the Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, Matt Ridley

Genome is somewhat out of date by now, published back in 1999. Bearing that in mind, it was a pretty good read; sometimes, the themes Ridley chose for a particular chapter weren’t all that closely tied to the chromosome he chose, and issues like that, but that’s the problem with our chromosomes. The information isn’t distributed neatly across our chromosomes: in fact, those of us with a Y chromosome have one that does almost nothing overall, despite the fact that it affects carriers’ phenotypes so markedly.

It’s mostly informative and tries hard to avoid reinforcing certain misconceptions — like the idea that a gene codes for a disease, or that things are as simple as a single gene coding for a single trait. A lot of the anecdotes are familiar to me from previous reading, but it’s still interesting to see them presented in this way. It’s pretty modern-human-centric: I mean, if you’re going to look at our autobiography of a species, then I think at least a little time needs to be given to the past of our species. People so often want to know how closely we’re related to Neanderthals.

I think Ridley’s tone is a little dry, though; given that and the fact that the book is a little out of date now, I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and up to date whip around of what we know of genetics. If you have a more general, patient interest, though, why not?

Rating: 3/5

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