If the name ‘James D Watson’ rings a dusty old bell, and conjures up something that sounds like ‘fancy stick’ and the smell of formaldehyded flatworms, then yes, my friend, you have successfully channelled Biology 10. And if the thought of returning there, even for a scant 143 pages, sends you diving for your scalpel (presumably to stab me with, not to bone up on your dissecting), hear me out.
The Double Helix is awesome. And I know, I’m a fabu-nerd and I will read anything and when people like Emily say things like ‘This book is both nerdy and fabulous’ (I may be paraphrasing), I have no resistance. But serious. It is great. Even if you don’t care how Watson and Francis Crick unravelled the mystery of the double helix (because hey, who does?) it’s a damn good read.
And you think you’re not going to get the sciencey bits which, ok, you’re not. But they’re so few and far between that you can just skim over them like I do over long descriptions of scenery! And also, for the most part Watson didn’t get them either! The man seems to have spent much of his early twenties trying to avoid learning anything at all! Which, besides making him a man after mine own heart, is also probably why the how-now of the book takes a faaaaaaaaaaaaar backseat to the who’s-doing-what-now.
Because it’s a race, people. The structure of DNA is out there, and it’s important, and whosoever finds it will be immortalized in Biology 10 textbooks ad infinitum!!!!! And so everyone’s experimenting like mad, all the while trying to con various rich institutions into continuing their grants for what they’re ostensibly working on, and then AT THE SAME TIME there’s all this drama! The Double Helix is surprisingly tawdry, full of rivalries and embarassments and people who throw ‘smashing parties.’