Natural Obsessions

Natalie Angier. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1988.
Natalie Angier is a first rate science writer for The New York Times. This book, a Putlizer Prize for nonfiction writing of a decade ago, describes her experience as a yearlong visitor in the labs of two prominent cancer researchers, Robert Weinberg’s laboratory at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge (author of the previous book on this list), and, to a lesser degree, at Mike Wigler at Cold Spring Harbor laboratory. Major accomplishments occur during the many months she was given the freedom of the corridors, including the cloning of cancer-causing oncogenes. What is wonderful about Angier’s reporting is that she spent much of her time interacting with the post docs doing the actual experiments, and so was able to paint a vivid picture of how science is really done these days in major biomedical laboratories. The book is beautifully written, explains the science well, and above all presents a bang-on accurate view of a modern cutting edge laboratory.

Dr. George Johnson