Markel masterfully demonstrates how temperaments, pettiness, and the pursuit of prestige can poison science. An illuminating and candid resetting of a pivotal moment in science, with characters who often cross the line between antagonist and protagonist.
No explosive new details are revealed, but Markel unifies the timeline and gives voice to the scientific and personal thoughts of the principal scientists, found in their correspondence, lab notebooks, memoirs, and interviews. Markel’s book portrays each scientist as a complex individual and is firm in the conclusion that Franklin was denied due credit for the DNA discovery ... This enjoyable account will save readers’ time by synthesizing and supplementing information from the dozen or so memoirs and biographies of Crick, Franklin, Watson, Wilkins, and Pauling.
There is no shortage of excellent histories, but Markel, a Guggenheim fellow and professor of medicine at the University of Michigan, has written one of the best. After a quick review of the relevant advancements in the 19th century, the author delivers long, satisfying biographies of the leading figures as well as a large supporting cast ... Markel provides a meticulous account of DNA research by others, as well, and he emphasizes that Watson and Crick made their breakthrough by examining X-ray photographs of DNA crystals ... A brilliant addition to the literature on the history of biological discovery.