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Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley

Genome by Matt Ridley

Genome by Matt Ridley

A superficial train ride through the human genome that is neither satisfying nor well written or even cleverly organized. Best you can say, it’s popular.

My original, and necessarily brief, review of Matt Ridley’s popular book Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, was published as a .
It read:

Recent read: Ridley “Genome” http://u.nu/5kz7 Collection of tediously opinionated popularized science anecdotes, lacking style & substance.

As you can plainly see in the above photograph, originally published on twitpic and taken on a train ride between Hamburg and Düsseldorf, my little plush bunny also disapproves of this book.

Later, I had to amend my original review in order to mention a different aspect that must not go unpunished. How the book’s footnotes—collected at the back—are organized defies belief. The pages itself throughout the book display the respective subtitles for each chapter, like “Life,” “Species,” or “History.” In the footnote section, the numbers restart with each chapter, but the chapter sections are not introduced by the chapters’ subtitles, but by their headings, like “Chromosome 1,” “Chromosome 2,” etc. To add insult to uselessness, Ridley apologizes already in the introduction that the connections between the chapter headings (i.e., the chromosomes) and the subtitles (i.e., what he’ll actually be talking about) are not really working out and might be “a most misleading thing that I have done” (5).

Well done indeed. After a while, I gave up on the footnotes, and the urge to throw the book across the passenger car subsided.

Ridley, Matt. Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. New York: Harper Perennial, 2000.
This review was also published at LibraryThing (but isn’t there anymore for reasons related to my physical library).

If you have something valuable to add or some interesting point to discuss, I’ll be looking forward to meeting you at Mastodon!

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1 Response


  1. between drafts | Buchsturz Januar–Oktober 2011