Schultz: The Stuff of Life
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Mark Schultz, The Stuff of Life : A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA. New York : Hill and Wang, 2009. 150 pages : chiefly illustrations; includes bibliographical references.
I feel I should start by saying that I am not a biologist, but rather just an interested layperson. Not thoroughly ignorant on the subject, but most definitely not an expert. In other words, I believe I fit in the category of "intended audience" for this book.
This book is a wonderful introduction to the world of genetics. I realize there is still a significant percentage of the population which is resistant to the graphic novel/comic medium, and my debating skills likely aren't adept enough to change anyone's mind. But this book worked wonderfully!
The illustrations brought further clarity to the text. While the method of telling the story through an asexual alien race searching for answers to their own genetic crisis may not appeal to everyone, it definitely does not make this book overly simplistic. It is full of details, but not to a nauseating degree.
The subject is first covered from the molecular level and then the cellular level. Inheritance, genetic disorders, genetic technologies, and human evolution are then covered. Snippets of history are thrown in where appropriate. There was even a snippet devoted to the politics of genetics, and I especially enjoyed how this ended:
Lysenko's state-sanctioned program is an object lesson in what happens when what is wished to be true trumps what the evidence demonstrates to be true. But this catastrophic refusal to accept facts that were inconvenient occurred long ago, in a totalitarian society, and could never happen in a democracy, in a scientifically enlightened era. Or could it?
All in all, I would highly recommend this book. I can easily see this book becoming essential reading in high school and college biology classes.
-- Notes by DAS