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DNA: The Secret of Life, James D. Watson  

Fifty years ago, Francis Crick burst into his local pub, declaring that he and his partner, James Watson, had found the secret of life: the chemical structure of deoxyribonucleic acid. While their discovery concluded one of the most hotly contested scientific races ever, it also kicked off the greatest scientific quest in history: that of modern genetic research. Yet the story of DNA begins before the fateful pairing of those two young men, stretching back as far as antiquity. DNA: The Secret of Life is an elegant, panoramic look through the ages at this essential molecule, entertainingly narrated by Watson himself. From the Greeks' reproductive theories and Mendel's advanced genetic experiments to Watson and Crick's own thrilling breakthrough and the complete sequencing of the human genome, the book details the progression towards the modern genetic revolution. Watson also discusses the impact of molecular biology on our world, how its move from pure research to profit-driven industry has brought about arguments and controversy, as well as advances in medicine. Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the double helix as well as a five-part PBS miniseries on the history of DNA, James D. Watson's DNA: The Secret of Life is a readable, compelling examination of the molecule that will define our future.

Janet Wallach  

Turning her back on her privileged life in Victorian England, Gertrude Bell (1868-1926), fired by her innate curiosity, journeyed the world and became fascinated with all things Arab. Traveling the length and breadth of the Arab region, armed with a love for its language and its people, she drew the map of Iraq. When World War I erupted it was Gertrude Bell's work and connections that provided the brain for T. E. Lawrence's military brawn. After the war she participated in both the Paris and Cairo conferences, played a major role in creating the modern Middle East, and was generally considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire. Read an essay by her biographer Janet Wallach.

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