RaveThe Wall Street JournalWonderful...a thoughtful, lively and evocative exposition of the history of genetic engineering ... Matthew Cobb is very clear that this conversation should include more than just scientific specialists.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... thought-provoking, joyous and ebullient ... Sumner sets the record straight and illuminates some of the esoteric mysteries and unexpected competences of these enigmatic insects. In so doing Ms. Sumner, an entomologist and behavioral ecologist, and a professor at University College London, charms her readers into realizing that the pesky, whirring, anxiety-provoking yellow jackets and other species of wasps that scuttle our picnics and torment our summer afternoons, are not mischievous villains so much as highly underestimated and misunderstood philanthropists ... Ms. Sumner’s own invocations of wasp characteristics, behavior, social life and culture sparkle with curiosities and insights ... suggests, in an entertaining manner, that we need to re-examine our relationships with nature, and the multitude of critters it comprises. Doing so would have profound consequences in an age when technological innovations continue to displace and disrupt the lives of wasps and other species. Seirian Sumner’s compelling account of nature’s coherent beauty teaches that it is time for the utilitarian attitude toward nature to be replaced with appreciation and conservation, something long overdue.
Sara Manning Peskin
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Peskin provides the reader with an acute and evocative demonstration of the fragility and interchangeability of mental, emotional and behavioral states, and shows how they may be affected by the misbehavior of the molecules defining them ... Ms. Peskin articulates the frustration of being routinely relegated to the role of passive observer as her patients \'slowly disappear,\' leaving behind just the \'husk of a person\' ... Another compelling example of how defective molecules may hold entire generations to ransom is found in a rare familial form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease ... One can imagine a time when the obscure mental calculus of the brain is stripped naked and revealed in its totality.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... thoughtful and entertaining ... while there is some equivalence between, on the one hand, the indirect manipulation of genomes through breeding and environmental degradation and, on the other, the biotechnological modification of genomes, genome engineering carries far greater repercussions; the case for its widespread implementation should be treated as a separate dilemma. Our enthusiasm and optimism for the new age of genomic engineering that is already upon us should be accompanied by an appropriate degree of caution and humility. We know precious little about most organisms and their ecosystems. To meddle with their structures is to play with technologies that may eventually facilitate the rewriting of human nature.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal[An] entertaining and thoughtful book ... Ageless follows biologist George C. Williams’s simple evolutionary explanation for why we age, based on a phenomenon called \'antagonistic pleiotropy.\' ... Put simply, genes selected to facilitate early successful reproduction may have detrimental effects as we get older. In Mr. Steele’s words, it looks as if evolution has traded our \'future health for increased reproduction.\' Were we able to roll the clock back and redesign ourselves, we would doubtless find alternative genetic circuits that did not have these unfortunate consequences.
RaveThe Washington Post... lively and enthralling ... Benefiting from his presence at some of the key moments in gene-editing history, and armed with humor and an enthusiastic writing style, Davies provides a compelling account of CRISPR’s discovery and the shenanigans accompanying its meteoric ascendance.
Rebecca Wragg Sykes
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... intriguing ... Through painstaking forensic analysis of an eclectic collection of fragmented artifacts, and in a manner at times achieving the suspense and excitement of a Hollywood thriller, Ms. Wragg Sykes makes a bold and magnificent attempt to resurrect our Neanderthal kin ... the author enables us to confront a sliver of Borgesian possibility ... The unsung heroes of this detective story are undoubtedly the forensic scientists who helped develop ingenious methods for bringing invisible Neanderthal existence to life.
RaveThe Washington PostIn her glorious and exuberant celebration of these biological flying machines, The Language of Butterflies, Wendy Williams takes us on a humorous and beautifully crafted journey that explores both the nature of these curious and highly intelligent insects and the eccentric individuals who coveted them. En route we discover, among other things, the remarkable interconnectivity of living things, the deceptions that insects deploy to trick predators and the complexities that present a significant challenge to our attempts to conserve the rapidly disappearing natural world.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalUsing a panoply of colorful examples, the author artfully illustrates the frustrations, uncertainty, poorly founded confidence and frequent futility of medical practice in the prescientific age. Employing a consistently light and humorous touch, he effortlessly navigates a cornucopia of fascinating, esoteric and obscure patient histories. The carefully selected vignettes demonstrate the befuddled mindset of the well-intentioned physicians who were forced to contend with the vagaries of damaged and failing human flesh without the benefit of anesthesia, and armed with little more than the fanciful theories of Galen ... This continuity of human folly across the centuries is simultaneously surprising and reassuring. The author emerges as equal measures social historian and voyeur. Little attempt is made to connect the various incidents into a substantial overview, in the manner of the greats of the genre such as the British medical historian Roy Porter. Indeed, the material, although both fascinating and entertaining, is left displayed naked on the dissection table in a somewhat disjointed and frivolous manner that is ultimately disappointing. It nevertheless provides a curious window into a vitalistic era of medical practice that, fortunately for us all, has been eclipsed by the significant advances of contemporary molecular medicine.
RaveThe Financial TimesHis book is in this sense an epitaph to an incarnation of the NHS that existed in gentler, better-funded and less-regulated times. As one might expect, however, from a high-spirited individual such as Marsh, his 'retirement' is no less vigorous and varied than his former life. From his regular travels to Nepal to assist a former pupil at his neurosurgical unit in Kathmandu and jaunts to Ukraine to operate with a friend in Kiev, to his Zen-like renovation of a derelict canal-side cottage in Oxford, Marsh’s eloquent book is — among many other things — a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] thoughtful, engaging book ... Ms. Rochman argues that the notion of an open future is in some ways illusory, since we are inevitably forced to dance to the tunes programmed into our genes ... Ms. Rochman discusses the implications of this new technology and its potential to be abused by those espousing eugenic ideologies. More broadly, she correctly notes that right now both patients and physicians are poorly equipped to fully comprehend 'the stories that genes may whisper or shout within our bodies'.'