The structure of DNA deduced by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953 was one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the 20th century. Fifteen years later, Watson wrote The Double Helix, his classic account of the discovery. It was something new, a description of science in action written not as a formal autobiography or a measured history, but in the voice of a brash, ambitious young man who knew the big question in biology and wanted the answer.
In this edition, Watsons text is unchanged, but Alex Gann and Jan Witkowski have added over three hundred annotations on the events and characters portrayed, with facsimile letters and contemporary photographs, many previously unpublished. Their sources include newly discovered correspondence from Crick, the papers of Franklin, Pauling, and Wilkins, and they include a chapter dropped from the original edition.
The Double Helix is recognized by the Library of Congress as A Book That Shaped America. This new edition, published to mark the 50th anniversary of the Nobel Prize for Watson, Crick, and Wilkins, and the 60th anniversary of the discovery itself, adds depth and richness to one of the most famous stories in science.
The Double Helix is the best book I know about a scientific discovery—this new edition suffuses the whole with social history, fascinating documentation, photography, and cunning background research. The early fifties, the beginning of the modern age of molecular biology, spring to life. —Ian McEwan, author of Atonement
The Double Helix is an extraordinary book: a thrilling, novelistic account of one of the most surprising of all scientific discoveries. This new edition draws upon a remarkable and eclectic archive of information to bring to life the stories of those who found the secret of life. Matt Ridley, author of Genome and Francis Crick
Classic works of literature from Herodotuss Histories to Alice in Wonderland and The Waste Land have received the honor of annotated editions. The Double Helix richly deserves admittance to this hall of fame.
The New York Times
Is there ever a good reason to reissue a good story? In the case of The Double Helix, the answer is emphatically yes....The production values of the new edition are gorgeous, which adds to the fun of fully understanding the world of the protagonists and their professional and personal quests....The result is simply fabulous. This is a page-turner for the scientist and does the original work great credit. Hats off to the editors, who were inspired by Sydney Brenner to pull the history together in all of its color. There is no question that they have succeeded in delivering a work that not only memorializes and contextualizes the discovery of DNA, but does so in its own highly appreciate way....
Id definitely recommend this edition of The Double Helix. If you're going to read the book, this is the way it ought to be read.
Annotated to clear up abiding mysteries...this is a sampler of rare treats.
The classic Double Helix (1968) is here again, this time annotated and illustrated and told in all the bold, brash, bumptious style that has become Watsons...trademark in the intervening years....What makes this version so rewarding is the fact that editors Gann and Witkowski have wonderfully put the pursuit in context....But context also means scenery and lifestyle: the pub lunches, the girl-chasing, the films, dances, ski trips and holidays in storied mansions that Watson so adored....Readers old or new are in for a fine treat; there really has been nothing in the history of science writing comparable to Watsons tell-all memoir.
...adds color and context to Watsons account.
...the lavish annotations in this definitive edition, with five generous appendices full of documents, open a wholly new dimension on the story....Among the many rewards that this greatly enriched edition of Watsons famous success de scandale contains are an additional chapter (not scandalous), deleted from the original, and especially a profusion of photographs...This splendid volume, to conclude, is richly laden with instruction and entertainment for all, whether the historian, scientist or voyeur.
Last week saw a 50th-anniversary celebration in Stockholm of the Nobel Prize for the discovery of DNAs structure....A remarkable new book, The Annotated and Illustrated Double Helix [is] edited by Alex Gann and Jan Witkowski. The books text is Dr. Watsons original and brilliant novelistic account of how the discovery was made, but Drs. Gann and Witkowski have added photos, extracts of letters and footnotes to fill out the picture, in the process vindicating almost all of Watsons characterizations....
Wall Street Journal, 2012 Holiday Gift books
Watsons 1968 account of the race to identify the structure of DNA remains one of the best science memoirs ever written. This new annotated edition features letters, photographs and other documents from the period of Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkinss Nobel Prize-winning discovery. In one letter, Franklin confides to a friend that she finds many of her colleagues positively repulsive.
Recommended books by Scientific American
...this edition adds new life with images, letters and hand-drawn diagrams.
Books to delight the scientifically curious, from New Scientist
This is, simply, a must have a collectors item.
Richly annotated and almost obsessively illustrated with snapshots, scanned documents, and reprintings of previously published material, the book invites a slower, perhaps more reflective reading of Watsons page-turner. The best of the marginalia make Watsons narrative even more vivid and clarify both the story and the science.