The Century of the Gene by Evelyn Fox Keller

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 5 Critic Reviews



In a book that promises to change the way we think and talk about genes and genetic determinism, Evelyn Fox Keller, one of our most gifted historians and philosophers of science, provides a powerful, profound analysis of the achievements of genetics and molecular biology in the twentieth century, the century of the gene. Not just a chronicle of biology’s progress from gene to genome in one hundred years, The Century of the Gene also calls our attention to the surprising ways these advances challenge the familiar picture of the gene most of us still entertain.
Keller shows us that the very successes that have stirred our imagination have also radically undermined the primacy of the gene—word and object—as the core explanatory concept of heredity and development. She argues that we need a new vocabulary that includes concepts such as robustness, fidelity, and evolvability. But more than a new vocabulary, a new awareness is absolutely crucial: that understanding the components of a system (be they individual genes, proteins, or even molecules) may tell us little about the interactions among these components.
With the Human Genome Project nearing its first and most publicized goal, biologists are coming to realize that they have reached not the end of biology but the beginning of a new era. Indeed, Keller predicts that in the new century we will witness another Cambrian era, this time in new forms of biological thought rather than in new forms of biological life.

About Evelyn Fox Keller

See more books from this Author
Evelyn Fox Keller is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at MIT. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and numerous honorary degrees.
Published June 30, 2009 by Harvard University Press. 192 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Century of the Gene

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

The author of Refiguring Life (1995) assesses a hundred years of progress in genetics, perhaps the most exciting area in modern science, focusing on the conceptual problems inherent in the little understood nature of the gene itself.

| Read Full Review of The Century of the Gene

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

""What is most impressive to me,"" she writes, ""is not so much the ways in which the genome project has fulfilled our expectations but the ways in which it has transformed them."" In this tight, clearly written survey, Keller does a wonderful job of explaining and demonstrating how our knowledge...

| Read Full Review of The Century of the Gene

London Review of Books

Perhaps more important, however, the widespread redundancy in genetic pathways appears to pose a pressing problem of method, because, as Keller notes, ‘redundancy is technically opaque to the methods of genetics.’ If functions are distributed across redundant protein networks rather than residing...

| Read Full Review of The Century of the Gene

Project MUSE

Also, fewer genes may be necessary if their effects acting together are greater than (or different from) the summed effects of the individual genes.

| Read Full Review of The Century of the Gene

Project MUSE

As she rightly points out, genetics and the gene have undergone a powerful transformation in the course of the century, from 1909, when the term “gene” was a relatively obscure term coined to represent a unit of heredity, until the present, when the word pervades the popular press and where, with...

| Read Full Review of The Century of the Gene

Reader Rating for The Century of the Gene

An aggregated and normalized score based on 8 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review