Title: “A Crack in Creation”
Authors: Jennifer A. Doudna & Samuel H. Sternberg
My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release date: June 13, 2017 on Amazon
More often than not, it’s difficult to determine which new titles will have staying power 10, 20 or 50 years from now. But “A Crack in Creation” deserves to be on any short list of decidedly important nonfiction books of 2017.
The reason is not simply because of the authors’ pedigree — co-author Jennifer Doudna is credited as the chief pioneer behind CRISPR, the potentially world-changing gene-editing technique. The book’s impact is also buttressed by the authors’ scientific rigor, deeply felt passion, and understanding of the world-changing consequences of their research.
Doudna and Sternberg’s “A Crack in Creation” is two books in one. The first third is a short primer on genetic engineering and the scientists who’ve advanced the science over the years. While the attention to detail and footnote-rich documentation is commendable, the lay reader will be forgiven if she skips through some of the dry backstory to get to the good stuff in the remaining two-thirds of the book. Because few of us have yet to reckon with the significant issues raised by the recent breakthroughs in CRISPR research, which only came to light in 2012.