She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity

She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity Review

Carl Zimmer presents a history of our understanding of heredity in this sweeping, resonating overview of a force that shaped human society--a force set to shape our future even more radically.

She Has Her Mother's Laugh presents a profoundly original perspective on what we pass along from generation to generation. Charles Darwin played a crucial part in turning heredity into a scientific question, and yet he failed spectacularly to answer it. The birth of genetics in the early 1900s seemed to do precisely that. Gradually, people translated their old notions about heredity into a language of genes. As the technology for studying genes became cheaper, millions of people ordered genetic tests to link themselves to missing parents, to distant ancestors, to ethnic identities. . . .

But, Zimmer writes, "Each of us carries an amalgam of fragments of DNA, stitched together from some of our many ancestors. Each piece has its own ancestry, traveling a different path back through human history. A particular fragment may sometimes be cause for worry, but most of our DNA influences who we are--our appearance, our height, our penchants--in inconceivably subtle ways." Heredity isn't just about genes that pass from parent to child. Heredity continues within our own bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that make up our bodies. We say we inherit genes from our ancestors--using a word that once referred to kingdoms and estates--but we inherit other things that matter as much or more to our lives, from microbes to technologies we use to make life more comfortable. We need a new definition of what heredity is and, through Carl Zimmer's lucid exposition and storytelling, this resounding tour de force delivers it.

Weaving historical and current scientific research, his own experience with his two daughters, and the kind of original reporting expected of one of the world's best science journalists, Zimmer ultimately unpacks urgent bioethical quandaries arising from new biomedical technologies, but also long-standing presumptions about who we really are and what we can pass on to future generations.

Title:She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity
Edition Language:English

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Paul

    Yes, it's long – about 540 or so actual pages of text, followed by a glossary, bibliography and endnotes – but She Has Her Mother's Laugh does not waste a single page. Carl Zimmer has produced a m...

  • Pam Mooney

    An amazing and well researched book. Takes us through the history and research of heredity from first works to today. It was so interesting to know where we started and how little we knew about heredi...

  • Dramatika

    What a brilliant earth shuttering book! The staff good science fiction is made of except happening IRL now as we live. So many amazing new ideas and facts, I was forced to stop reading and just contem...

  • Gary

    Heredity is the sum of all the previous environments and the current environment we were thrown into. Who we are as a species and as individuals is far more complicated than just our genes. Mendel’s...

  • Ernst Hafen

    A fascinating journey through the multi-facetted biological basis, historical and societal impact of heredity; from Aristotle to plant and animal breeders in the 18th and 19th century to Darwin, Mende...

  • Dlmrose

    3+...

  • Polo Lonergan

    Parts of this book are interesting. Parts are excrutiatingly dry. It felt like it took me forever to slog through the ending....

  • Mehrsa

    If you haven't been following or reading any news on genetics research, then this is an excellent primer, but if you do follow the science pages, there isn't much that is new in here. It's all interes...

  • Leo

    Great book with numerous points of insight into modern genetics and heredity. The middle lost some momentum, but the author did a great job of finishing well and tying the whole storyline together by ...

  • Gerard Villegas

    After reading this, I'm gonna clone myself with my DNA or create a homonculous to help restart humanity. Lord knows we need it...