on December 29, 2001
The painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was the dwarfish son of first cousins, who may have suffered from a hereditary dwarfism. Abraham Lincoln, however, was an uncommonly tall man. His height may be a sign that he had a genetic disorder known as "Marfan Syndrome". In 1962, the syndrome was diagnosed in a 7-year-old boy, who was an 8th-generation descendant of the great-great grandfather of the president. The most serious health problem Lincoln bore in life was "melancholia" and he could also have been predisposed to depression, because major depressive illness has a significant hereditary component.
Well-known genetic diseases in royal families are the madness of King George and the bleeders among Queen Victoria's descendants. The son of the last Tsar, Nicholas II, was one of those bleeders. Nicholas and his family were executed and recently DNA techniques were used to identify their bones.
These stories and others are described in this interesting book about DNA, genetics, clones and ethics. Each chapter in this book is a thrilling tale about something like fragile X-es, double Y's, the sheep Dolly or the Cheddar Man.
on March 1, 2001
Abraham Lincoln's DNA And Other Adventures In Genetics is a fascinating and informative collection of twenty-four stories about history, justice, human behavior, plants, animals, diseases, and ethical dilemmas as reflected in the rapidly evolving science of genetics. The title story refers to the question of whether or not Abraham Lincoln had the tissue disorder known as Marfan syndrome and the committee that considered testing his DNA to find out. The committee decided not to. But DNA was used to establish that the Russian royal family did indeed all die in a mass grave. DNA profiling has also become an established means of identifying crime suspects. Reilly tells these illustrative stories with a genuine flair that not relates engaging accounts, but also teaches fundamental facts and principles in the science of genetics. Abraham Lincoln's DNA And Other Adventures is very highly recommended for both students and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in genetics and how this fledgling science is beginning to exert a powerful influence on our public health, culture, and community.
on October 20, 2003
This fascinating book surveys the major facets of modern genetic research. Its various sections -- on biotechnology, social behavior, DNA in the courts and others -- are self-contained. This results in some repetition, but given the wealth of detail survyed, repetition is not unwelcome. Among the observations I found particularly intriguing are: the U.S. DoD operates the world's largest DNA databank; we will ultimately find the genes that contribute to manic-depression, but we will "map, clone and sequence" the genes that predispose to schizophrenia by 2005; the frequency of cystic fibrosis is a genetic puzzle and surprising (p. 214); Reilly finds virtually no evidence of individuals being denied access to medical coverage, or paying more for it, because of genetic testing (pg., 231-232); finally, efforts are underway to breen transgenic pigs more amenable to humans and vice-versa(!), to alter human bone marrow so as to make it more "pig-like."
on December 9, 2002
I came across this book while I was away at sleepaway camp for the first time at Vasser Collage. One of my older friends, Ashley, was reading this book and I got interested. I spent my remaning [$$$] on this book, and let me tell you! This book is so much more than just a textbook, it helped me explore, for the first time, the world of DNA. Now I am usinf this book for a biography of Abraham Lincoln, and its helping drasticly. Now I am even more sure that when I grow up, I want to be an epidemiologest. If I could choose any book for a favorite, this would be mine! I would highly recomend this book for anyone whose careeer path is similar to mine, of anyone skilled in the medical feild, or anyone looking for a long, interesting, read.