The Gene: an Intimate History Book Review

With a lot of misinformation about genes and the spreading of all manner of made up things on the internet it is interesting to read this pre-pandemic published book and some interesting history of viruses and gene technology.

Among the interesting things you will read about in this book:

  • SV40, a human DNA editing virus! It had been infecting a large portion of the Polio vaccine recipients. Even so, not everyone got cancer and although the virus is controversial they have found that long term it seems to not have given way to an elevated number of cancer cases.
  • Insulin was the first commercially important compound with gene tech, having to be created with pounds of animal body parts before. (p236)
  • Some parts of human DNA is recurrent repeating sequence that they don’t know why, and some just appears to be some inserted ancient virus (or things they do not know the purpose of yet?) (p.325)

The book takes a more balanced look than most in also looking at the history of Gene tech both in helping us understand how bodies work, and fueling genetic “research” such as in WWII pseudoscience, ethnic cleansing and also wiping out of young populations that had certain unwanted diseases or conditions.

Books like this often have more intelligent material than what you are apt to see repeated on your Facebook or Twitter feed about certain current-events… so take a long weekend as a good chance to read a book this summer!

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