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Works by
James D. Watson
(Aka James Dewey Watson)
(Molecular Biologist, Writer)
[April 6, 1928 - ]

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Profile created August 21, 2008
Books
  • Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science (2007)
    From a living legend—James D. Watson, who shared the Nobel Prize for having revealed the structure of DNA—a personal account of the making of a scientist. In Avoid Boring People, the man who discovered “the secret of life” shares the less revolutionary secrets he has found to getting along and getting ahead in a competitive world.

    Recounting the years of his own formation—from his father’s birding lessons to the political cat’s cradle of professorship at Harvard—Watson illuminates the progress of an exemplary scientific life, both his own pursuit of knowledge and how he learns to nurture fledgling scientists. Each phase of his experience yields a wealth of age-specific practical advice. For instance, when young, never be the brightest person in the room or bring more than one date on a ski trip; later in life, always accept with grace when your request for funding is denied, and--for goodness’ sake--don’t dye your hair. There are precepts that few others would find occasion to heed (expect to gain weight after you win your Nobel Prize, as everyone will invite you to dinner) and many more with broader application (do not succumb to the seductions of golf if you intend to stay young professionally). And whatever the season or the occasion: avoid boring people.

    A true believer in the intellectual promise of youth, Watson offers specific pointers to beginning scientists about choosing the projects that will shape their careers, the supreme importance of collegiality, and dealing with competitors within the same institution, even one who is a former mentor. Finally he addresses himself to the role and needs of science at large universities in the context of discussing the unceremonious departure of Harvard's president Larry Summers and the search for his successor.

    Scorning political correctness, this irreverent romp through Watson’s life and learning is an indispensable guide to anyone plotting a career in science (or most anything else), a primer addressed both to the next generation and those who are entrusted with their minds.

  • Genes, Girls, and Gamow: After the Double Helix (2002)
    Immediately following the revolutionary discovery of the structure of DNA by James D. Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, the world of molecular biology was caught up in a gold rush. The goal: to uncover the secrets of life the newly elucidated molecule promised to reveal. Genes, Girls, and Gamow is James Watson's report on the amazing aftermath of the DNA breakthrough, picking up where his now-classic memoir The Double Helix leaves off.

    Here are the collaborations and collisions of giants, not only Watson and Crick themselves, but also legions of others, including Linus Pauling (the greatest chemist of the day), Richard Feynman (the bongo-playing cynosure of Caltech), and especially George Gamow, the bearlike, whiskey-wielding Russian physicist, who had turned his formidable intellect to the field of genetics; with Gamow—an irrepressible prankster to boot—Watson would found the legendary RNA-Tie Club.

    But Watson––at twenty-five already the winner of genetic research's greatest jackpot––is obsessed with another goal as well: to find love, and a wife equal to his unexpected fame. As he and an international cast of roguish young colleagues do important research they also compare notes and share complaints on the scarcity of eligible mates. And amid the feverish search for the role of the still mysterious RNA molecule, Watson's thoughts are seldom far from the supreme object of his affections, an enthralling Swarthmore coed named Christa, the daughter of the celebrated Harvard biologist Ernst Mayr.

    Part scientific apprenticeship, part sentimental education, Genes, Girls, and Gamow is a penetrating revelation of how great science is accomplished. It is also a charmingly candid account of one young man's full range of ambitions.

  • A Passion for DNA: Genes, Genomes, and Society (2000)
    A principal architect and visionary of the new biology, a Nobel Prize-winner at 34 and best-selling author at 40 (The Double Helix), James D. Watson had the authority, flair, and courage to take an early and prominent role as commentator on the march of DNA science and its implications for society. In essays for publications large and small, and in lectures around the world, he delivered what were, in effect, dispatches from the front lines of the revolution. Outspoken and sparkling with ideas and opinions, a selection of them is collected for the first time in this volume. Their resonance with today's headlines is striking.

  • The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA (1980)
    By identifying the structure of DNA, the molecule of life, Francis Crick and James Watson revolutionized biochemistry and won themselves a Nobel Prize. At the time, Watson was only twenty-four, a young scientist hungry to make his mark. His uncompromisingly honest account of the heady days of their thrilling sprint against other world-class researchers to solve one of science's greatest mysteries gives a dazzlingly clear picture of a world of brilliant scientists with great gifts, very human ambitions, and bitter rivalries. With humility unspoiled by false modesty, Watson relates his and Crick's desperate efforts to beat Linus Pauling to the Holy Grail of life sciences, the identification of the basic building block of life. Never has a scientist been so truthful in capturing in words the flavor of his work.

  • DNA: The Secret of Life (2003) with Andrew Berry
    Fifty years ago, James D. Watson, then just twenty-four, helped launch the greatest ongoing scientific quest of our time. Now, with unique authority and sweeping vision, he gives us the first full account of the genetic revolution—from Mendel’s garden to the double helix to the sequencing of the human genome and beyond.

    Watson’s lively, panoramic narrative begins with the fanciful speculations of the ancients as to why “like begets like” before skipping ahead to 1866, when an Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel first deduced the basic laws of inheritance. But genetics as we recognize it today—with its capacity, both thrilling and sobering, to manipulate the very essence of living things—came into being only with the rise of molecular investigations culminating in the breakthrough discovery of the structure of DNA, for which Watson shared a Nobel prize in 1962. In the DNA molecule’s graceful curves was the key to a whole new science.

    Having shown that the secret of life is chemical, modern genetics has set mankind off on a journey unimaginable just a few decades ago. Watson provides the general reader with clear explanations of molecular processes and emerging technologies. He shows us how DNA continues to alter our understanding of human origins, and of our identities as groups and as individuals. And with the insight of one who has remained close to every advance in research since the double helix, he reveals how genetics has unleashed a wealth of possibilities to alter the human condition—from genetically modified foods to genetically modified babies—and transformed itself from a domain of pure research into one of big business as well. It is a sometimes topsy-turvy world full of great minds and great egos, driven by ambitions to improve the human condition as well as to improve investment portfolios, a world vividly captured in these pages.

    Facing a future of choices and social and ethical implications of which we dare not remain uninformed, we could have no better guide than James Watson, who leads us with the same bravura storytelling that made The Double Helix one of the most successful books on science ever published. Infused with a scientist’s awe at nature’s marvels and a humanist’s profound sympathies, DNA is destined to become the classic telling of the defining scientific saga of our age.

  • Recombinant DNA: Genes and Genomics -- A Short Course (1983, by Amy A. Caudy, James D. Watson, Jan A. Witkowski, and Richard M. Myers.
    Also known as Recombinant DNA, a Short Course: Their Sensory Evaluation
    Recombinant DNA offers an authoritative, accessible, and engaging introduction to modern, genome centered biology from its foremost practitioners. The new edition explores core concepts in molecular biology in a contemporary inquiry based context, building its coverage around the most relevant and exciting examples of current research and landmark experiments that redefined our understanding of DNA. As a result, students learn in a compelling way how working scientists make real high impact discoveries. The first chapters provide an introduction to the fundamental concepts of genetics and genomics, an inside look at the Human Genome Project, bioinformatic and experimental techniques for large scale genomic studies, and a survey of epigenetics and RNA interference. The final chapters cover the quest to identify disease causing genes, the genetic basis of cancer, and DNA fingerprinting and forensics. In these chapters the authors provide examples of practical applications in human medicine, and discuss the future of human genetics and genomics projects.

  • Molecular Biology of the Gene (1965, 1970, 1976, 1987, 2003, 2007)
    Though completely up-to-date with the latest research advances, the Sixth Edition of James D. Watson’s classic book, Molecular Biology of the Gene retains the distinctive character of earlier editions that has made it the most widely used book in molecular biology. Twenty-two concise chapters, co-authored by six highly respected biologists, provide current, authoritative coverage of an exciting, fast-changing discipline. Mendelian View of the World, Nucleic Acids Convey Genetic Information,The Importance of Weak Chemical Interactions, The Importance of High Energy Bonds, Weak and Strong Bonds Determine Macromolecular Interactions, The Structures of DNA and RNA, Genome Structure, Chromatin and the Nucleosome, The Replication of DNA, The Mutability and Repair of DNA, Homologous Recombination at the Molecular Level, Site-Specific Recombination and Transposition of DNA, Mechanisms of Transcription 13  RNA Splicing, Translation, The Genetic Code, Transcriptional Regulation in Prokaryotes, Transcriptional Regulation in Eukaryotes, Regulatory RNAs, Gene Regulation in Development and Evolution, Genomics and Systems Biology, Techniques of Molecular Biology, Model Organisms.  Intended for those interested in learning more about the basics of Molecular Biology.

Other
  • Darwin: The Indelible Stamp -- Evolution of an Idea (2005), James D. Watson, ed.
    For the first time ever in one volume, here are four of the most influential works of Charles Darwin, reprinted in their entirety, each illuminated by commentary from eminent scientist James D. Watson. Included are On the Origin of Species, arguably the most important scientific work of the nineteenth century; Voyage of the Beagle, a captivating travelogue richly stocked with observations that helped guide the young Darwin through his evolutionary world view; The Descent of Man, which explored the origins of humans and their history; and The Expressions of Emotions in Man and Animals, which explored the origin and nature of the mind. With his separate introductions for each of Darwin's books he goes further to explain how the modern considerations underlying genome research would have been impossible without Darwin, bringing a contemporary relevance to these nineteenth century masterworks.

  • Phage And the Origins of Molecular Biology. (1966, 2007), Gunther S. Stent, James D. Watson, and John Cairns, eds.
    Published in 1966 as a 60th birthday tribute to Max Delbrück. On first publication, the book was hailed as "[introducing] into the literature of science, for the first time, a self conscious historical element in which the participants in scientific discovery engage in writing their own chronicle. As such, it is an important document in the history of biology... "(Journal of History of Biology). And in another review it was described as "required reading for every student of experimental biology...[who] will sense the smell and rattle of the laboratory" (Bioscience). The book was a formative influence on many of today s leading scientists.

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