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Book review: The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddartha Mukherjee

By Philip Ball   June 2016

The GeneBodley Head, £25

“Gene” is one of the most loaded words in modern biology. Is it a selfish automaton that manipulates us for its own benefit? A preordained determinant of character and health? A fluid script liable to be rewritten by circumstance? Or does it perhaps not exist as a well-defined concept at all? If you’re confused, you’ve got good reason. And it’s unlikely that you’ll find a better guide through these thorny questions than physician and biologist Siddhartha Mukherjee, whose “biography of cancer” The Emperor of All Maladies won a…

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