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THE GENE – Sundar Pichai’s One of the Favorite Book | Written by Siddharta Mukherjee

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The Gene: An Intimate History

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Exploring ‘The Gene’: A Journey Through Our Hereditary Blueprint

In “The Gene: An Intimate History,” Siddhartha Mukherjee, an Indian-born American physician and oncologist, weaves a compelling narrative that chronicles the history of the gene and genetic research. Published on May 17, 2016, by Scribner, the book delves into the power of genetics in determining people’s well-being and traits1.

Mukherjee’s work is not just a historical account; it’s a personal exploration of how genetic inheritance has affected his own family, with conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder featuring prominently. These disorders, linked to genetic mutations, highlight the reality that some of us are genetically predisposed to certain conditions2.

The book is structured into six parts, each focusing on specific discoveries made within a particular time period, from around 1865 to the present day. Mukherjee begins with a brief history of human heredity’s impact on his family before diving into the scientific journey that starts with Gregor Mendel’s experiments on pea shoots in a monastery garden3.

Mukherjee’s narrative style is unique, as he presents the gene as a biography, tracing its role through the centuries and our never-ending quest to find answers to questions of human heredity. The central thesis of the book is that our understanding of the gene, or at least our attempts to understand it, profoundly affects our lives and how we shape our society—for better or worse3.

The final section of the book, Part 6, prompts readers to consider what humanity will do with its expanding knowledge of the gene. It challenges us to reconsider what it means to be human in an age where we can manipulate our own genetic code3.

“The Gene” received overwhelming praise upon publication for its narrative style and was nominated for several awards, including the 2016 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction and the 2017 Wellcome Book Prize1. It also served as the basis for a PBS documentary produced by Ken Burns, with Mukherjee himself serving as a key commentator1.

In conclusion, “The Gene: An Intimate History” is a must-read for anyone interested in the intersection of science, history, and personal narrative. Mukherjee’s book is a testament to the complexity of genetic science and its profound implications for the future of humanity. It is a story that is intimately human, reflecting our collective quest for knowledge and the ethical considerations that come with such power. Whether you are a scientist, a student of history, or simply someone curious about the fabric of life, this book offers a rich and thought-provoking journey through the world of genes and genetics.

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