• Comprehensive
  • Analytical
  • Scientific


After a brief, clear introduction to the basic concepts of genetics, including a sharp run-through of a working vocabulary, best-selling author Matt Ridley takes on the daunting task of explaining the miraculous complexity of the human genome. He discusses each of a person’s 23 chromosomes as a chapter in the book of human characteristics. Each chromosome’s story line encompasses broad conversations about science, history, psychology, philosophy, biology, and much more. Ridley avoids jargon and writes for clarity and smooth, quick flow. He offers an understanding of what makes human beings both so much alike and yet individually unique. Genome first came out in 1999, and the ensuing years have seen great discoveries of new information, some of which Ridley touches on in the back section “A Genetic Update, Courtesy of the Author.” Surprisingly, the advances in facts and understanding do not make this book obsolete; it remains a fundamental, invaluable foundation for comprehending human genes.

A scientist and educator, Ridley is a smart guy. But unlike a lot of smart people, he possesses a rare genius: He can explain complex, esoteric science in a way that makes sense to and even inspires the layperson. Proof of this ability is that his other books, including The Red Queen, The Rational Optimist and The Agile Gene, are also bestsellers, available in a multitude of languages. Ridley has done what few nonfiction writers can do, though all of them want to: He has established himself as a brand, and he rules his niche. You may skip a few pages here and there when he waxes poetic, but his worthy nuggets of fact and conjecture are likely to fascinate you as he introduces areas of thought you may not have considered previously.

Ridley teaches these lessons:

About the Author

Matt Ridley, who holds a PhD in zoology from Oxford, is a former science journalist for The Economist and founding chair of the International Center for Life. His books about science and human nature include the bestsellers The Red Queen, The Rational Optimist and The Agile Gene.

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