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October 9, 1996

Democracy and DNA: American Dreams and Medical Progress

Author Affiliations

UCLA School of Medicine Olive View/UCLA Medical Center Sylmar, Calif


by Gerald Weissmann, 263 pp, $23, ISBN 0-8090-9305-7, New York, NY, Hill & Wang, 1996.

JAMA. 1996;276(14):1194-1195. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540140082036

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Democracy and DNA arrived for review a week before a Joint Commission (JCAHO) visit. The usual last-minute flurry left little time to pay attention to a book, but the interesting title and an intriguing dust jacket design led me to open and browse through it that day.

Soon I found myself reading a chapter on Elizabeth Blackwell, the country's first woman doctor. It was well-written and piqued my interest. Other names I ran across included Oliver Wendell Holmes, Frederick Law Olmstead, and Katherine Lee Bates. How did they all fit together? And, how is democracy related to DNA? I took the book home that night for more browsing. Finally, after the JCAHO visit, I got around to reading the book from beginning to end, and the early promise suggested by the title, the dust jacket, and the Blackwell chapter was met—and far exceeded. This is a most interesting book, which