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June 6, 1966

The Language of Life: An Introduction to the Science of Genetics

Author Affiliations



by George and Muriel Beadle, 242 pp, 114 illus, $5.95, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1966.

JAMA. 1966;196(10):920. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100230164052

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The Language of Life is described as a "lucid and literate primer for laymen"—a challenging assertion. I am impressed, however, as a layman and physician, by the manner in which this purpose has been accomplished. The writing was done by Muriel Beadle, whose past experience as a newspaper writer is clearly seen in the brisk, rapid unfolding of the authors' story of man's quest for knowledge in the field of genetics. With considerable success they present a continuum from mendelism to the modern concepts of a "gene" and the biochemistry of the genetic code. They draw information and examples from the fields of evolution, anthropology, social sciences, and medicine, with particular emphasis on classical and biochemical genetics. The language is simple, clear, and often personal. Interspersed are opinions and anecdotes which add considerable color to a scientific tale, although some of the editorial comments seemed unnecessarily pointed.

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