The Code BreakerWalter Isaacson

The Code Breaker

4.5 star

Total 713 Ratings

The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson Book Summary

A Best Book of 2021 by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Time, and The Washington Post

The bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with a “compelling” (The Washington Post) account of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and have healthier babies.

When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.

Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, she would help to make what the book’s author, James Watson, told her was the most important biological advance since his codiscovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned a curiosity of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions.

The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code.

Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? What a wonderful boon that would be! And what about preventing depression? Hmmm…Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the height or muscles or IQ of their kids?

After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. Her story is an “enthralling detective story” (Oprah Daily) that involves the most profound wonders of nature, from the origins of life to the future of our species.

The Code Breaker (Walter Isaacson) Book Reviews

Our CRISPR futureNobody does a better job than Walter Isaacson of presenting science, technology and the personalities of the people he writes about. This book excels in all these attributes, bringing us the latest in CRISPR biotechnology and the people involved. Gene editing will be our future..Score: 5/5

UpliftingAlthough I had difficulty understanding much of the science, Walter Isaacson tried to explain. Not his fault I’m not that smart. But thank goodness there are many who are. This is a dynamic, exciting, very interesting book. The future ahead..Score: 5/5

ScienceMade complicated science understandable.Score: 5/5

FascinatingA world that eluded so many women. I so love science. I was always wandering, wondering and watching but was told often that I was not smart enough..Score: 5/5

The Power of WomenAs I have grown older, I have seen the focus on my family evolve, as my girls became women and mothers and our family thoughts moved to the future. I am equally fascinated with what has changed globally over the past 35 years and how we have all grown together. Ours has become a brave new world as described by Walter Isaacson's wonderful new book, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race (2021). This is the story of a brilliant, young woman, Dr. Jeniffer Doudna, who received the 2020 Nobel prize for advances in CRISPR genetic editing… and also efforts of others that go back 60 years with the discovery of DNA and the work of Rosalind Franklin and James Watson. These changes are dramatic for it is now possible to modify and change the human offspring process as has never been possible before. This is a complex story told by the gifted biographer, who has put these world-changing events into a grand perspective. It’s the story of the greater inclusion and the empowerment of women in today’s society in a future that they helped make possible. I celebrate their successes and their accomplishments; may their wisdom proliferate and their vision make the future better for us all. Every child should learn of these realities that Dr. Doudna successfully researched and brought into the future; she has raised questions with the discovery and development of CRISPR editing that are quite wonderful. Since the pace of learning varies with age, I have also identified some earlier writings that will also introduce the foundations of these realities that are related to benefit a range of readers. Here is James Watson’s seminal work on DNA discovery, The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA (1968), that Jeniffer read as a sixth grader when she first thought about women being scientists. Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution (2017), is Doudna’s personal account of the biotechnology that she helped to establish as it was growing at a pace that she had never imagined. I am excited for a future that we will all share with intelligent leaders in a compassionate world with the increased participation of strong and loving women. ——————————— I have written books, policy studies, short stories, technical articles and love poems. Once a New England native, I currently live in Florida between the beach at Hobe Sound and the Loxahatchee River. I am retired, I’ve traveled twice around the world and I’m ready to do it again. I love Judy, the kids, the grandkids and the people I have met along the way. I use an iMac Retina, an iPad Air, an iPhone Xr and the Internet. I have been writing Apple Books since 2017 for young readers with the idea of promoting reading and writing and encouraging storytelling for greater understanding and dialogue between generations. My Apple Books are free downloads and they need to be read so please share them. From The Future is at Your Fingertips to The Last Transition…, Fingertips Books are filled with hundreds of hyperlinks that broaden each story’s value. Enjoy! Bob Magnant.Score: 5/5

Read This BookA must read if you want to understand the coming age of CRISPR and our ability to edit genes. Also a deep and inspiring look at the scientists that got us here..Score: 5/5

Superb!!Excéllent survey of the promise of CRISPR gene editing technology which has a real potential to precisely identify and modify viruses such as the Delta and Omicron strains. It’s superb report by ing'.Score: 5/5

This is how to build a biographyThis is a great story about the people who are leading the scientific quest for a better future. The more we learn the better we are able to handle our future challenges. The author makes the search of the people whom he writes about a very engaging story that captivates and enhances our experience of getting to know about who they are..Score: 5/5

Too longInteresting, but I wish it had been edited to a shorter length. Did not need so much about ethics. I had to edit as I read to complete this book. Liked Einstein more..Score: 4/5

ReviewAn exciting book about status of CRISPER and the battle with COVID-19.Score: 4/5

Calling all curiosity seekers!Fascinating true story of the mysteries of our biological world and those who discoveries that can help save humanity from itself. Dr. Doudna and her team should be rolled out to explain this critical, relevant research to the public. Perhaps the fears for the current vaccinations might be eased? A must read for all those interested in the curiosity seekers who will shape, alter and heal human biology. Thought provoking and engrossing, cover to cover!.Score: 5/5

The Things You Don’t KnowSlow read but so worth it. I learned so much! Thanks to all participants for taking the time to give us lay people a better understanding of scientific discovery and application. I am definitely more informed and happy to be so..Score: 4/5

Mind Blowingly GoodI am not sure who I am more in awe of, Jennifer Doudna or Walter Isaacson. This book is superbly written and exhaustively researched. It is a master piece about a master piece. The only disappointment was running out of pages at the end..Score: 5/5

DR. JENNIFER DOUDNA—One of the Covid hero’s.A solid and relevant book about an inspiring scientist. We all should know her contributions to the underlying science behind the Covid tests and vaccine..Score: 4/5

The Code BreakerVery disappointed. It started well, and there was so much scope for the science, but it devolved into a litany of petty rivalries and slights. I started the book with a high opinion of Jennifer Doudna; the book diminished that. The author appears to hunt around for as many - often very slight - detractors, and then proceeds to paint Doudna as an Angel. It felt like a case of The Lady Doth Protest Too Much. Pity; we need more women to look up to..Score: 1/5

Id=1526283447I’m not gonna make it for work but I’m still working.Score: 4/5

A slogThis book seems more like a research paper about the entire history of gene editing than a book about Jennifer Doudna. It gets too bogged down in what seems like a complete review of every conference, every paper and every person related to this technology. Are there any scientists who AREN'T working on gene editing? Then it spends a painful amount of time on the ethics of this tech. I feel like I just switched to a philosophy book for the last hour. I understand this is a very important aspect to consider going forward, but I don't need to be beaten over the head and it just goes on and on. Ugh. I get it. There are huge implications. There are pros and cons, but it gets repetitive and tedious. I loved his book about Steve Jobs. I couldn't put it down. There was a nice balance of history, tech, personalities involved, personal struggles. I was hoping for something like that here, but I find I am struggling to find the energy and interest to even finish it after getting 3/4 of the way through. I think it could have used some serious, heavy editing. There is too much dry, disjointed, tedious detail. It sometimes reads like a daily journal. "Today, this conference happened and these people attended. The next week in the lab, this test was done. On January 3rd I got a call from a scientist that wants to work on this aspect." Enough!.Score: 2/5

AmazingJennifer Doudna is a inspiration for not only women, but other scientist of various backgrounds and up bringing. The author does a splendid job of portraying the complex and interesting history of CRISPR. As a biology student and avid science geek, I feel an even more connection and appreciation that this technology can do for our species..Score: 5/5

Wonder WomanAwesome book! So well written, so comprehensive so spectacular! I loved every chapter!.Score: 5/5

FabulousRevitalized my biotech interests and inspired me with the spectacular response of the scientific community:).Score: 5/5

Great read!Well done. Impressive research. Very enlightening and thought provoking..Score: 5/5

Would have been a 5But the author had to through Trump under the bus. Does he really believes nothing would have been accomplished without his leadership through a World Wide Pandemic!.Score: 4/5

E I iuuSn.Score: 5/5

DisappointedVery disappointing. I thought some like Doudna could rise above the petty “victim” politics, she doesn’t need it, she’s an accomplished scientist, but stick to your knitting! Science!! When her and Isaacson add their own pedestrian political views, they leave their area of expertise and are no longer worthy of my attention or money. Wasted my money.Score: 1/5

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One of the best books I have ever read!Extremely well researched. Very well laid out and very well written. I am now going to purchase all his other books and can’t wait to get into them and read them all. … and a huge thank you to all the scientific “players” in this real life issue about helping humanity. … and to the very rare species of politician who had enough common sense to help in positive way..Score: 5/5

Extremely interesting readThanks for the great read.Score: 5/5

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