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Unravelling the Double Helix: The Lost Heroes of DNA

Gareth Williams

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Biography: science, technology & medicine, History of science, Popular science, DNA & Genome

An engaging and original history of the first hundred years of DNA, one of the greatest triumphs of modern science.

DNA. The double helix; the blueprint of life; and, during the early 1950s, a baffling enigma that could win a Nobel Prize. Everyone knows that James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helix. In fact, they clicked into place the last piece of a huge jigsaw puzzle that other researchers had assembled over decades. Researchers like Maurice Wilkins (the 'Third Man of DNA') and Rosalind Franklin, famously demonised by Watson. Not forgetting the 'lost heroes' who fought to prove that DNA is the stuff of genes, only to be airbrushed out of history.

In UNRAVELLING THE DOUBLE HELIX, Professor Gareth Williams sets the record straight. He tells the story of DNA in the round, from its discovery in pus-soaked bandages in 1868 to the aftermath of Watson's best-seller THE DOUBLE HELIX a century later. You don't need to be a scientist to enjoy this book. It's a page-turner that unfolds like a detective story, with suspense, false leads and treachery, and a fabulous cast of noble heroes and back-stabbing villains. But beware: some of the science is dreadful, and the heroes and villains may not be the ones you expect.

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Gareth Williams

Gareth Williams is Emeritus Professor and former Dean of Medicine at the University of Bristol. His previous books for general readers are Angel of Death: The Story of Smallpox (shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize of 2010), Paralysed with Fear: The Story of Polio and A Monstrous Commotion: The Mysteries of Loch Ness. He is a past president of the Anglo-French Medical Society and has an honorary doctorate from the University of Angers. He is often to be found playing the flute or saxophone in and around Bristol.

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