The Double Helix is a book written by James D.Watson in 1968. I think the name is easily recognisable as it belongs to one of the persons who discovered DNA. I have read about Watson & Crick in my science textbook during school days and hence, the book obviously interested me. I heard from one of my friends about the book a while ago and was waiting to lay my hands and eyes on it. Finally, I got such an oppurtunity last week. The book is regarded as one of the one of the Modern Library’s 100 best non-fiction books. (Courtesy:Wikipedia). While reading it, I wondered why it did not raise any controversies. But, after reading about it on wikipedia now, I understand that it is indeed controversial as I expected it to be!
It was very interesting to know about the scientific community of that time and the process of discovering the DNA. I almost felt I am reading some thriller novel as I went through the book. Reading about Maurice Wilkin’s relation with Rosaline Franklin, Crick’s poking his nose in to other people’s research when he was a research scholar, the team always trying to outperform Pauli, who was a famous scientist by then – all such events added a lot of spice to the work. This is another book of parellel history, the term which I use to describe the general fiction and non-fiction, which gives us an insight in to what happened in their times.
However, I somehow felt it was too biased against Rosaline Franklin. I don’t know anything about her and her work while I was reading it. I just have a vague rememberence about this story, which I read somewhere on her life. The book was highly male chauvinistic as far as Rosaline Franklin is concerned. Watson himself expressed some regret about his treatment of Rosy in this book later. Some change in Watson’s mindset can be noticed in the epilogue of the book itself. Reading about Rosaline Franklin on the Wiki gave me some startling revelations about the male-female discrimination in English universities in those days. No, I am not being feministic. I am just putting forth the facts. Nothing beyond that.
On the whole, it is an interesting book in ways more than one. On the same day that I read this book, I found that there are many books written with similar themes on scientific discoveries. Readers can drop the titles that they are aware of in this regard. I became interested in these themes now. 🙂