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Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts Paperback – Apr 8 2014

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (April 8 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374534241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374534240
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.8 x 20.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #343,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Witty and well-researched . . . Despite her scientific expertise, Ms. Anthes can't resist playful perkiness herself.” ―The New York Times

“[Frankenstein's Cat is] far more than just a fascinating read about animal manipulation. As it touches the third rail of 'manipulating Nature,' which seems to irritate non-religious liberals as much as evangelicals, its implications go far beyond controversies associated with animal biotechnology to the ethics of "positive eugenics" in humans. [Anthes] colorfully explores all the fascinating and in some cases gruesome ways humans are reshaping the animal kingdom . . . she thoughtfully pleas for reasoned contemplation and discussion rather than knee jerk reactions.” ―Forbes

“In a fascinating romp through laboratories, barns, and pet stores, science journo Emily Anthes interviews the innovators pushing biological limits, and offers elegant explanations of neuroscience and genetics.” ―Ryan Jacobs, Mother Jones

“Genetically engineered glow-in-the-dark fish for your fish tank. Cyborg beetles concocted by the Defense Department. Five hundred different strains of transgenic mice caged in a Chinese laboratory. Science journalist Emily Anthes has a knack for ferreting out such eyebrow-raising specimens, and she makes the details of her complex subject matter highly readable in Frankenstein's Cat.” ―The Washington Post

“Anthes, a gifted science writer who lives with her cavapoo Milo, takes us on a journey from "petri dish to pet store" and beyond . . . this is a serious book with a light touch.” ―Bloomberg

“A witty exploration of the many ways in which humans are reshaping animal bodies in the twenty-first century . . . an entertaining, intelligent book that casts new light on the shady gulf between man and beast.” ―Nature

“Fascinating, sharp and a bit scary.” ―New Scientist

“A profoundly hopeful and often funny book about how the dividing line between human, animal and machine isn't as clear as you might think . . . This is a must for animal lovers, as well as anyone curious about the future of biology.” ―

“Fascinating . . . A heartwarming chapter is devoted to the dolphin Winter, whose injured tail was replaced with a prosthetic one . . . with legislation regulating the animal biotech industry highly inconsistent . . . Anthes eloquently explores the arguments framing the debate.” ―Nautilus

“Charming . . . the science is accessible and so, mercifully, is the ethics... a breezy introduction to a complex and controversial issue.” ―BBC Focus

“Witty and intelligent . . . If Anthes had simply opted to flit from one biotech vignette to the next, Frankenstein's Cat would be impressive enough. But she gives us much, much more, straying at every turn to reflect on historical precedents to these brave new beasts and to ponder the troublesome philosophical and ethical questions they raise.” ―BBC Wildlife

“[Anthes] has a gift for blending reputable science with humorous anecdotes in a sparkling writing style that makes reading this book a real delight . . . The book bubbles with provocative bioscience and fascinating examples of important advances that are presented in a witty and absorbing fashion. You will be introduced to a wide range of emerging technology that has compelling applications to future health care . . . It is a gem of a book . . . pick it up and enjoy a peek into this brave new world of biotechnology!” ―Oncology Times

“A lively, engaging, and intensely researched overview of where animal science has gone in recent decades and where it might go. All who value both human and animal welfare may think it worth their while to give it a read.” ―The Futurist

“The great merit of Frankenstein's Cat is its balance. It could have been a gee-whiz paean to the genius of genetic engineers. It could have been a soulless expose of the bizarre features of its subject. It could have been a cry of fright at the possibilities unleashed by scientists in this field. Anthes, often humorous but never insensitive, portrays their products neither as masterpieces nor as monsters. What she does say, in many different ways, is that we must understand the consequences of genetic engineering and be prepared for them practically, philosophically and ethically--not after the startling and perhaps irreversible fact, but in advance.” ―The Valley Advocate (Massachusetts)

“An elegant tour of the wild and fraught sideshow of animal biotechnology . . . Learned, entertaining and illuminating.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“The book is a quick, often surprising review of current advances, giving accessible treatment to a weighty subject and employing clear descriptions of complex science. Anthes not only explores what is being done but also asks why and if it should be done. Along the way, the book reveals much about humans and our connections to animals and the world we all inhabit.” ―Booklist

“Animals are fascinating if reluctant soldiers in the biotech revolution, writes journalist Anthes in this witty and thought-provoking book” ―Publishers Weekly

“With wit, high intelligence, and a lively writing style, Anthes portrays the new world of biotechnology-in which we control the bodies and brains of other animals-and the moral and philosophical issues so raised” ―Alan Lightman, bestselling author of Einstein’s Dreams

Frankenstein's Cat is smart, lucid, and full of surprises. There was hardly a page that didn't contain something new or unexpected.” ―Anne Fadiman, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

“Smart, funny and deep: Frankenstein's Cat is a report from the frontiers of the scientific campaign to re-engineer animals to fulfill human desires. At the same time Anthes, whose love of animals shines through on every page, takes her readers on a rich and challenging quest of self-discovery: what rights do the animal objects of our creativity possess-and what obligations to them and to ourselves must we accept as we reshape (again!) the living world? A great read” ―Thomas Levenson, Professor of Science Writing, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of Newton and the Counterfeiter

“Emily Anthes gets the balance just right . . . There are brilliant stories of the entrepreneurs who want to bring glowing fish and remote controlled cockroaches to market, contrasted with the potentially lifesaving work of 'pharmed' animals modified to produce medicine in their milk . . . Always enjoyable, a page-turner of a popular science book with a surprise around every corner.” ―Brian Clegg, author of Inflight Science and The Universe Inside You

About the Author

Emily Anthes is a journalist whose articles have appeared in Wired, Discover, Psychology Today, Slate, Scientific American, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She holds a master's degree in science writing from MIT and a bachelor's degree in the history of science and medicine from Yale. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her dog, Milo.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very good overview of the newer biological technologies living among us, easily understood & well explained. Anthes is funny, witty, occasionally sarcastic, and a darn good science journalist. I was quite surprised my copy came through 2 libraries and had never been checked out. If an individual was afraid of genetic technology, this would be the book to read to ease those fears.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars 51 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mammoth Park June 8 2013
By Paul Moskowitz - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
As a scientist, I was fascinated by all the work that is going into the manipulation of animal species. The author gives us an overview of work on fluorescent fish, cloned cats and dogs. transgenic goats, cyber-dolphins, and the recreation of woolly mammoths.

I am especially intrigued by the possibility of bringing back the mammoths. Every time that I drive west out of Denver, I look for the buffalo herd, really bison, that can sometimes be seen near the highway. (Please see Customer Image for the hardcover edition.) This species was nearly wiped out, but has been saved. Could we do the same for the mammoths by cloning their DNA? Of course, they are really large animals, perhaps too big for zoos. Where would we put them? Give them North Dakota or even Canada? How could they be contained?. Maybe we could give them their own island. Manhattan could then be put to good use.

Overall, the book's overview of genetic research was fascinating. I recommend it as an excellent starting point for exploring this area.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't put this book down! Amazing, Shocking, Fun and Informative. April 12 2013
By Michael Ball - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book came today and I just can't put it down. It's past 2am already. I'll probably finish it on the second read tomorrow. This is a book everyone needs to read to understand synthetic biology. It's amazing, scary, shocking, exciting. Synthetic Biology, and Evolutionary Developmental Biology are favorite topics of mine to read. Emily writes in a style that is very easy to understand even for a layman on this subject. She clarifies misunderstandings about genetically modified animals and also contrasts them to the hybridized animals which we have had for hundreds of years - especially dogs. She gets deep into the ethics and puts forward both sides of all the issues raised. The book starts out describing how they can easily grow a mouse with tusks with a slight genetic modification. This book seems like science fiction from 100 years into the future but it is real and now and today.
23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe GMO crops are the least of our problems April 3 2013
By janderbing - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I have worked at biotech companies in research for over 10 years, and so am well familiar with genetically tweaked mice that are created to test out drugs and their efficacy. This book was helpful because it was well-researched and had other examples of "tweaking". However, I felt such inherent danger when I read about the creation of so many "brave new beasts". What happens when they - like the genetically engineered salmon - get loose in the wild? A situation just as bad as GMO corn pollen - unable to be contained, even if harmful. I wish that the author had shared more about what she really feels about the issues she raised. I liked this book - many examples of *cool* and *useful* modifications of creatures, and a good look at what is out there. I just couldn't shake my inner creepiness warning, because I think she glossed over the dangers of this technology.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is the Future Here Yet? Frankenstein's Cat Has an Answer March 21 2013
By Barrett - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're like me, you get inspired by the headlines: "Scottish Scientist Clones Sheep." "Engineers Create Radio-Controlled Insects." "New Plan to Re-Stock Great Plains With Long-Extinct Animals." You get excited, you get inspired, and then... you wait. Years pass. Emily Anthes' book Frankenstein's Cat explains the need for patience. In clear, occasionally hilarious prose, Anthes relays the state-of-the-art at the intersection of animals and science: bionic bugs, cloned pets, biological mapping networks. It's a wonderful reminder of our weird and breath-taking world, the difficulty of the scientific work that aims to illuminate it, and the dedication of the men and women conducting that work.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Overview o the Current Science July 4 2013
By Michael A. Schumann - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just as one would expect from a Scientific American Book, this is a very good general survey. It covers the trends in cloning and other aspects of biotechnology. In doing so, it might disappoint those who are already a bit more informed, either by reading other books on the issues or by following the general science magazines. For those, who want a quick survey, though, this is a good choice.