The Wonder of Genetics
The Creepy, the Curious, and the Commonplace
By Richard V. Kowles
(Prometheus Books, Hardcover, 9781616142148, 337pp.)
Publication Date: September 1, 2010
Categories: Life Sciences - Genetics & Genomics
Why are some of us male and others female? What makes us short or tall, blond or brunette, light-skinned or dark? Why do some people look like their relatives, while others don’t? What causes defects of biochemistry that lead to debilitating illnesses and physical or mental handicaps? The answer to all these questions is genetics. This refreshingly clear layperson’s overview elucidates the importance and scope of genetics, showing its broad applications in many areas of life. As the author demonstrates, it’s no exaggeration to say that in life experiences genetics is everywhere. He begins by leading readers through the science involved in genetic research to show how heredity actually works and how it is studied in plants and animals, clearly explaining these concepts without an overload of technical jargon. He devotes separate chapters to such popular topics as: the genetic differences between males and females, the potential effects of radiation on the human genome, eating irradiated or genetically modified foods, cloning, genetic therapy, stem-cell research, nature vs. nurture, and how genes are related to many diseases, psychological disturbances, and possibly other behaviors. The author concludes by addressing common misconceptions about genetics and emphasizing the discipline’s potential for curing some diseases, extending human lifespan, enhancing medicine and agriculture, and generally improving society.
Richard V. Kowles, PhD (Winona, MN), is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in Biology at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. He is the author of Solving Problems in Genetics and Genetics, Society, and Decisions, among other publications.
"A logical, intuitive and witty approach to learning a potentially difficult subject for some….Many of the things that we wonder about in life (genetically speaking) are elegantly and accurately explained."
–Douglas N. Foster, professor of molecular and cellular biology, Department of Animal Science, University of Minnesota
"Uses easy language coupled with a thorough glossary, pictures and diagrams to explain complex ideas….easy to pick up and start reading at any page, but can also be thoroughly enjoyed cover to cover. It’s an excellent book for anyone who is after a quick and enjoyable explanation of genetics."