From the author of The Accidental Billionaires, The true story of a group of young geneticists working to make fantasy reality by sequencing the DNA of a frozen woolly mammoth harvested from above the Arctic circle, and splicing elements of that sequence into the DNA of a modern elephant.
Based on interviews, first-person sources and published material, author Ben Mezrich has woven a fast-paced, compelling account of the real-life researchers who inhabit the literal frontiers of the planet and the symbolic frontiers of genetic science ... [Mezrich] displays a deft hand with science, translating the complexity of genetic biology into terms understandable to the average reader. There’s no sense of deus ex machina about how a mammoth could be re-created; the reader understands, step by step, how it could be achieved at the most fundamental level ... the slightly flat ending doesn’t detract from a book that’s informative and entertaining. It’s that rare creature: a book about science that would qualify as a beach read.
Church and Wu are two of the main characters in Mezrich's taut yet detailed dramatization. Theirs is a synergistic relationship, and while it would be an overreach to call Woolly a love story at heart, the couple's dynamic is one of the essential threads of Mezrich's story ... Mezrich's eye for characterization is as sharp as his ability to break down scientific jargon into easily digestible chunks ... It's paced like a thriller, with the frustrating politics of the research industry bleeding over into the maneuverings of capitalists who see dollar signs in investing in widespread genetic engineering. Mezrich also frequently reconstructs dialogue between the plot's players, which at times feels overly contrived and distracting. Thankfully it's not enough to inhibit the intimate look into the lives of the men and women who are humbly — and at time not so humbly — hoping to put the power of creation at their fingertips. With all the passion and vision of the scientists seeking to bring the mammoth back to life, Woolly reanimates history and breathes new life into the narrative of nature.
Wooly spins this yarn of genetic creationism and scientific derring-do with breathless prose, which in places is indistinguishable from dust jacket fare. The reader will be forgiven for thinking that these big-tusked behemoths will reappear at the same time as the movie premiere ... Lesser characters in this brave new world include Stewart Brand, who published the Whole Earth Catalog, and Peter Thiel, of PayPal fame, who is funding efforts to find the Fountain of Youth. Without a touch of irony, Mezrich terms Thiel’s 'passionate belief' in using science to attain a 'massively extended life span' as 'infectious'...Near the very end of the book, Brand chimes in with a chapter all his own in which he undermines the very premise that he and Mezrich are pushing: that mammoths can ride to the rescue of Mother Earth.