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Book reviews for "Bishop,_Jerry_E." sorted by average review score:

Genome: The Story of the Most Astonishing Scientific Adventure of Our Time
Published in Paperback by (November, 1999)
Authors: Jerry E. Bishop and Michael Waldholz
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Disappointing Revision
Several years back, I received the initial edition of Genome as a gift. And what a gift it was! I've read it cover to cover many times, and it has sparked in this lay reader a sincere interest in genetic research. It conveyed the excitement of discovery in an understandable and readable way.

Then I started looking for additional books that survey the status of genetics research in the same way Genome did. I always wished that another, updated version of Genome would come along. Lo and behold, one did!

And now for the disappointing news. The "updated version" doesn't deliver. One short epilogue chapter is added to cover all of the happenings in the field in the past 10 years! Even the pictures are poor in quality, implying to me a rush to press on the part of the publisher. What happened with the experiemental treatments for DMD? What's new on the race to uncover the secrets of cancer? How goes the battle for our ethics to catch up with the science? No answers to be found here that date from any time after early 1990.

All this said, the material is still exciting to read, and I would recommend it to someone testing the waters in genetic research. But for those who's interest was sparked by the original Genome, this update isn't worth the money.

Genetic Hocus-Pocus
Excellent survey of 2 decades of progress in genetics, 1970-1990. The updated part of the book is a 15 page Epilogue, hardly doing justice to the past explosive decade. Authors put great conflict and human interest into their stories, e.g., the couple, each carrying the recessive gene for cystic fibrosis, had each given it to both of two daughters before they realized they were playing genetic casino. They "realized their gamble only after they've already lost the bet." The questions of whether to offer a new gene test for a serious malady when no treatment was available were especially troubling to the researchers.

Authors present a scary picture for the future role of medicine and physicians. Doctors will have to order genetic profiles to avoid malpractice. In pharmacogenetics, drug companies will take one's blood to develop personalized medicine to avoid side effects. The profile will allow them to peek into your health, your personality, your IQ potential and physical skills. With that genetic profile they can, with their pals the insurance companies, become tyrannical Big Brothers.

Authors try to raise red flags about future genetic discrimination. They don't seem to realize how much of current discrimination is already based on genetics. Society has been coping with discrimination for centuries. They mention the probable arising of a biological underclass (perhaps like the caste of untouchables in India?) and see that a genetic profile could become a scarlet letter following one throughout one's life. Employers would get the data and make a group unemployable. But aren't there already laws protecting the handicapped? In the near future most everyone will be seen with defective genes and partially handicapped.

Perhaps, however, Author's concern about a hereditary meritocracy is just genetic hocus-pocus. One's current illusions of choice and one's ignorance of the current genetic basis to behavior are likely to continue. The realization that one typo in the replication of a gene can cause a defect or disease is not likely to change one's current illusions of self control. The vast number of 3 billion interrelated nucleotides will more than likely always keep both science and lay people amazed at the complexity of human life.

This is the future!
A difficult but very important book! As a non-scientist, I had to go slowly and carefully through the chapters, remembering the key technical words. But it is more than worth the trouble. This is our future and we must think about not only the medical promise involved, but the cultural implications it brings. By all means read it!

Hello, Mr. Chips: Computer Jokes & Riddles
Published in Hardcover by E P Dutton (September, 1990)
Authors: Ann Bishop and Jerry Warshaw
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