The Genome War

By James Shreeve,

Book cover of The Genome War: How Craig Venter Tried to Capture the Code of Life and Save the World

Book description

The long-awaited story of the science, the business, the politics, the intrigue behind the scenes of the most ferocious competition in the history of modern science—the race to map the human genome.
On May 10, 1998, biologist Craig Venter, director of the Institute for Genomic Research, announced that he was…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Genome War as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This might not look like a big data book but, for me, the race to read the human genome marks the birth of big data in biology, in the form of a tsunami of DNA sequencing data. I edited Craig Venter’s A Life Decoded, the first genetic autobiography, which explored the implications of becoming the first person to gaze upon all six billion ‘letters’ of their own genetic code. While working on Craig’s extraordinary story I came across The Genome War and thought James Shreeve did a brilliant job in describing the drama, rivalry, and personalities in the race…

The race to sequence the human genome was one of the greatest scientific contests in modern history. Though the story has been told many times, James Shreeve’s lively narrative account is among the best.  Shreeve illuminates the larger-than-life personalities who made headlines as the government-funded, international Human Genome Project raced against the venture-backed company Celera Genomics, which intended to profit from the genome. Like The Double Helix before it, The Genome War shows that science is a contest not only of intellect, but of ego, money, and luck. 

From Jorge's list on genetics for the general reader.

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