Recounting complex scientific tales as if he were a storyteller around a fire, Isaacson helps the reader with signposts — “remember this tiny molecule” — and playful translations. Ribonucleic acid, or RNA, which Doudna devoted her life to studying, becomes a “middle manager” for its role in translating DNA into proteins.
This strange, hybrid book tells this story. Isaacson has previously written biographies of Henry Kissinger, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, and I was expecting this to be a biography of Doudna. It is, in part, but it is also a history of DNA and CRISPR research, a story about women in science, a digression on the significance of yoghurt, a long moral essay and an account that feels interminable of laboratory politics.