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  • The Code Breaker

  • Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race
  • Written by: Walter Isaacson
  • Narrated by: Kathe Mazur, Walter Isaacson
  • Length: 16 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (260 ratings)

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The Code Breaker

Written by: Walter Isaacson
Narrated by: Kathe Mazur, Walter Isaacson
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Publisher's Summary

A 2022 Audie Award Finalist

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.

©2021 Walter Isaacson. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about The Code Breaker

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I've never learned so much in such a short time

Just a great book to explain things to a neophyte like myself on complex subject.

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Must read, especially if you have university kids

This must read book, will enlighten you about the dawning of the new age of human existence that we are currently in. Especially well suited for science minded people, about the two women super heroes who won a Nobel price for their DNA/CRISPR genetics research, which ultimately was used in our COVID vaccinations. It celebrates the spirit of collaboration and competition among many biology-chemistry scientists.
Very well written in everyday language (as opposed to science only gibberish) which is quite easy to digest. It will help you better understand that we now have the complete human blueprint, and we now know how to change its design as we see fit. The ability to edit our individual DNA will have a profound effect on our life on this planet and all of the future generations who inherit our DNA.
The are some big philosophical issues to sort out now that we know how easy it is to change our DNA. There are bio-hackers who can do it in their own home labs. We now have god like power to eradicate disease, select the traits of our children, create super athletes and create super intelligence. But how far should we go?
If you have kids in university now, they should seriously consider a career in this fast developing new field.

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Great book

I didn’t believe a book could make me excited what progress man has made because of COVID-19. Thank you Jennifer Dowden and the other great. Scientists that such advancements possibly.

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Educate yourselves

This book opened my eyes to the possibilties of mRNA uses. I am now a firm believer in this technology and medical advancement.

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Enjoyable and Informative

Very well researched and delivered, with a good balance of the science and the human side of research.

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Learned good basics about CRISPR

I am a big fan of science books in general and of James Watson's The double helix.
I have read around 7 books by Walter Isaacson.

This was a great book on a subject (CRISPR) that is quite new, so I was happy to learn the fundamentals related to CRISPR.

As in most of its books, Walter Isaacson has a tendency to minimize the flaws of its main subject. But when you're aware of that, it's easy to enjoy the stories related to each character.

The decision to have the book narrated by Kathe Mazur was great choice, as the performance is excellent and having a feminine voice gets us closer to the main protagonists in the book.

Thanks

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  • LK
  • 2022-11-16

The Code Breaker

This book was a delicious listen! I can’t find anything negative to say about it. From the early days with her family I found myself wishing I had a Dad who was interested in science but I didn’t. Nonetheless, I somehow developed a pronounced interest in science and literature. Science won as I won a prestigious award to study in Britain. The all male lab were not supportive but they were unable to competently squash my desire to continue studying science
Long story short, I studied medicine going on to specialize in psychiatry. This is a very broad field of psychology from the bare-bones of brain function to the behavior of the individual with a particular brain. Examining how people write, for example is revealing in that context, This book should be read by anyone interested in science or those who are not sure.
Congratulations to the author on a fine piece of research well narrated and written.

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Eye opening!

Fascinating and eye opening read! I learned about so much more than I thought I would. Bio engineering is an issue that we all need to understand more about.

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Amazing story!

This is an amazing story, and it is written in a thoroughly engaging and entertaining manner. At times I was crying with sadness, raging with anger, and bursting with the excitement that this science makes me feel. Huge respect for the dedication and curiosity of these scientists, and gratitude to the author for making it accessible.

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Most relevant story in this pandemic

Want to know more about the COVID virus or any other ailment? This book provides the background to the most relevant story of our time. It should be required reading for everyone on the planet.

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1 person found this helpful