Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Camille Mumm Book Blog #7

The Human Genome Project     Camille Mumm
Thomas F. Lee Comp 106
Plenum Press
p. 1-150

“This is the chemistry of life itself, a maelstrom of swirling molecules, seemingly random but upon close examination extraordinarily ordered--a self-regulating dynamic chemical sea.” p. 5
While I find this book very interesting, many others may not. The Human Genome Project by Thomas F. Lee, doesn’t just throw the reader into a whirlwind of confusing terms, names, and dates that are important to the project. Instead Lee explains every term and its creator and origins before taking the reader way back, to the mid 1800’s where the first ideas of genetics and heredity begin.
Before Lee takes the reader back to the likes of Darwin and Mendel, he starts with an introduction that  gives the reader a nice recap of high school biology and then briefly discusses the the outcome and significance of the Human Genome Project. Lee muses on how the information that is gathered through the project might change medicine or everyday life for people.
What’s interesting about Lee’s delivery of this book is that it reads like the Lee is standing in front of a whiteboard lecturing too the reader. His point of view switches between a distant sounding third person when giving dates and other stats to a more second person point of view when explaining the concepts and ideas in an analogy. He also uses “we” or “I” quite a bit when asking questions or throwing in humor to make the book a little more interesting.
Many times in this book, the humor is a godsend. For example in chapter 6 Lee concludes a long complicated example about sorting through DNA fragments to find a specific gene that he had compared to sorting through shredded newspaper with a joke. “They lost 9 to 0” (140).This is not the most thrilling book I’ve ever read, but my interest in the subject matter keeps me reading. If this style of book was written on something that didn’t pique my interest, I wouldn’t have been able to get through this book. So as far as audience recommendation goes for this book, if genetics, history of DNA research, and so on doesn’t interest you, this isn’t your book.
Lee also provides sources for all the information and a dictionary to help the reader get through some of the terms. While they are well defined in the text when Lee explains a concept, sometimes the information in the back helps the reader recall a term that hasn't been brought up in a few chapters or when one wasn't quite clear in the first place.
On page 149, the book moves to chapter 7, which is starting to move past all of the history and names and onto the project itself. I believe this will be quite a bit more interesting. Earlier in the book Lee mentions that the ethics of the Human Genome Project will be discussed in chapters ten and eleven which I am excited to read about, because that is where all of the laboratory discoveries start applying to the public. I'me sure people were skeptical about this project when it appeared, and I'm curious to read about the different arguments. This book was also published in 1991, so the project had barely gotten off the ground. Because the project itself concluded in 2003, technology has advanced quite a bit in the field of genetics and I’m curious to see where this book left off and how outdated the information might be.


  1. Camille, I feel you did an excellent job on this job for analyzing. You did not just summarize the book and what happened, you actually analyzed the book and put your opinion in the book on different matters, such as when you said that it doesn't necessarily interest you, but with what you like to learn, it keeps you reading. The only major suggestion is to possibly talk more about your quotation in your blog or make more references to it. Otherwise, this is a great blog.

  2. Good analysis of the author's abilities.
    Could use a better introductory sentence after the quote.

  3. Very good job of analyzing the book and the author's writing style. My suggestion would be to talk a little more about what is actually in the book with specific examples.

  4. Good observations about the differing points of view and the type of reader the book would appeal to. Your interest in the subject makes your response more personal.