The Gene is a magnificent synthesis of the science of life, and forces all to confront the essence of that science as well as the ethical and philosophical challenges to our conception of what constitutes being human.

Paul Berg, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

This is perhaps the greatest detective story ever told—a millennia-long search, led by a thousand explorers, from Aristotle to Mendel to Francis Collins, for the question marks at the center of every living cell. Like The Emperor of All Maladies, The Gene is prodigious, sweeping, and ultimately transcendent. If you’re interested in what it means to be human, today and in the tomorrows to come, you must read this book.

Anthony Doerr, Author of All the Light We Cannot See

About the Author

Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, and The Laws of Medicine. He was the editor of Best Science Writing in 2013. Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician and researcher. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Times, and Cell.

He lives in New York with his wife and daughters.


The story of this invention and this discovery has been told, piecemeal, in different ways, but never before with the scope and grandeur that Siddhartha Mukherjee brings to his new history, “The Gene.” He fully justifies the claim that it is “one of the most powerful and dangerous ideas in the history of science. As he did in his Pulitzer ­Prize-winning history of cancer, “The Emperor of All Maladies” (2010), Mukherjee views his subject panoptically, from a great and clarifying height, yet also intimately.

James Gleick, The New York Times

Mukherjee is right to nudge us away from any simplistic notion that our genes determine our physical and mental identity. The scientific jury is still out on the various versions of epigenesis, but Mukherjee has done much good by concluding his history of genetics with provocations to think critically about some ways we commonly oppose heredity and the environment. Sound bites rarely represent sound science. Genes are not us. It would be as foolish to deny what our genes do as it would be to assert the sufficiency of our genes in making us who we are.

Steven Shapin, The Guardian


Dennis Boutsikaris


19 hours 22 minutes


Simon & Schuster Audio

Publication Date


  • It is one thing to try to understand how genes influence human identity or sexuality or temperament. It is quite another thing to imagine altering identity or sexuality or behavior by altering genes.
  • The crucial driver of evolution, Darwin understood, was not nature’s sense of purpose, but her sense of humor.
  • Cancer, perhaps, is an ultimate perversion of genetics—a genome that becomes pathologically obsessed with replicating itself.

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