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"Science seldom proceeds in the straightforward logical manner imagined by outsiders," writes James Watson in The Double
Helix, his account of his codiscovery (along with Francis Crick) of the structure of DNA. Watson and Crick won Nobel
Prizes for their work, and their names are memorized by biology students around the world. But as in all of history, the
real story behind the deceptively simple outcome was messy, intense, and sometimes truly hilarious. To preserve the
"real" story for the world, James Watson attempted to record his first impressions as soon after the events of 1951-1953
as possible, with all their unpleasant realities and "spirit of adventure" intact.
Watson holds nothing back when revealing the petty sniping and backbiting among his colleagues, while acknowledging
that he himself was a willing participant in the melodrama. In particular, Watson reveals his mixed feelings about his
famous colleague in discovery, Francis Crick, who many thought of as an arrogant man who talked too much, and whose
brilliance was appreciated by few. This is the joy of The Double Helix--instead of a chronicle of stainless-steel heroes
toiling away in their sparkling labs, Watson's chronicle gives readers an idea of what living science is like, warts and
all. The Double Helix is a startling window into the scientific method, full of insight and wit, and packed with the
kind of science anecdotes that are told and retold in the halls of universities and laboratories everywhere. It's the
stuff of legends. --Therese Littleton