The best-selling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns.
In 2012, Nobel Prize winning scientist Jennifer Doudna hit upon an invention that will transform the future of the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA.
Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions. It has already been deployed to cure deadly diseases, fight the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, and make inheritable changes in the genes of babies.
But what does that mean for humanity? Should we be hacking our own DNA to make us less susceptible to disease? Should we democratise the technology that would allow parents to enhance their kids?
After discovering this CRISPR, Doudna is now wrestling these even bigger issues.
THE CODE BREAKERS is an examination of how life as we know it is about to change – and a brilliant portrayal of the woman leading the way.
“This year’s prize is about rewriting the code of life. These genetic scissors have taken the life sciences into a new epoch.” – Announcement of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
“Walter Isaacson is our Renaissance biographer, a writer of unusual range and depth who has plumbed lives of genius to illuminate fundamental truths about human nature. From Leonardo to Steve Jobs, from Benjamin Franklin to Albert Einstein, Isaacson has given us an unparalleled canon of work that chronicles how we have come to live the way we do. Now, in a magnificent, compelling, and wholly original book, he turns his attention to the next frontier: that of gene editing and the role science may play in reshaping the nature of life itself. This is an urgent, sober, accessible, and altogether brilliant achievement.” —Jon Meacham
“When a great biographer combines his own fascination with science and a superb narrative style, the result is magic. This important and powerful work, written in the tradition of The Double Helix, allows us not only to follow the story of a brilliant and inspired scientist as she engages in a fierce competitive race, but to experience for ourselves the wonders of nature and the joys of discovery.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin
“He’s done it again. The Code Breaker is another Walter Isaacson must-read. This time he has a heroine who will be for the ages; a worldwide cast of remarkable, fiercely competitive scientists; and a string of discoveries that will change our lives far more than the iPhone did. The tale is gripping. The implications mind-blowing.” – Atul Gawande
“An extraordinary book that delves into one of the most path-breaking biological technologies of our times and the creators who helped birth it. This brilliant book is absolutely necessary reading for our era.” — Siddhartha Mukherjee
“Now more than ever we should appreciate the beauty of nature and the importance of scientific research; This book and Jennifer Doudna’s career show how thrilling it can be to understand how life works.” —Sue Desmond-Hellmann
“A magisterial biography of the co-discoverer of what has been called the greatest advance in biology since the discovery of DNA… A diligent historian and researcher, Isaacson lucidly explains CRISPR and refuses to pass it off as a far-fetched magic show. Some scientific concepts (nuclear fission, evolution) are easy to grasp but not CRISPR. Using charts, analogies, and repeated warnings for readers to pay attention, the author describes a massively complicated operation in which humans can program heredity…A vital book about the next big thing in science—and yet another top-notch biography from Isaacson.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“In Isaacson’s splendid saga of how big science really operates, curiosity and creativity, discovery and innovation, obsession and strong personalities, competitiveness and collaboration, and the beauty of nature all stand out.” — Booklist (starred review)
“Isaacson depicts science at its most exhilarating in this lively biography of Jennifer Doudna, the winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in medicine for her work on the CRISPR system of gene editing…The result is a gripping account of a great scientific advancement and of the dedicated scientists who realized it.” — Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“Isaacson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of best sellers Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs, offers a startling, insightful look at this lifesaving, hugely significant scientific advancement and the brilliant Doudna, who wrestles with the serious moral questions that accompany her creation. Should this technology be offered to parents to tailor-make their babies into athletes or Einsteins? Who gets altered and saved and why?” — AARP
“The journalist who told the life stories of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs is back with a timely biography of Jennifer Doudna, PhD, winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in chemistry. It’s a fast-paced account of her life as a pathbreaking scientist on CRISPR — and how gene editing could alter all life as we know it.” — Medium
“This challenging, fascinating story examines Doudna’s background and excavates the moral quandaries she grapples with as her creation opens up more and more avenues for scientific advancement.” — Elle
“It is a gripping tale, showing how our new ability to hack evolution will soon start throwing us curveballs.” — New Scientist
About the Author
Walter Isaacson, a professor of history at Tulane, has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chair of CNN, and editor of Time. He is the author of Leonardo da Vinci; The Innovators; Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made..
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