The need for this book came up when I got stumped very near the beginning of Dawkins' "The Extended Phenotype". It is a difficult book that requires some grasp of basic genetics to really follow and understand. So, I stopped and decided to put my hands on some text that will place all the basics of genetics in order inside my head. "Genetics for dummies" is the first book from the (in)famous Dummies series I've read. I chose it because it has very good reviews on Amazon, and generally I wasn't disappointed. The book is well written and lays down the fundamentals of genetics in a readable manner. For me, the book has accomplished its goal - I now feel much more confident to tackle problems and explanations on genetics-related topics in other books. I liked that the book gives a very balanced overview of the subject, not focusing on just a single sub-topic of this very vast field of research. Although balancing the focus over many topics naturally harms the amount of paper-space dedicated to each one, the author managed it pretty well, and I can't say that some topic got much less attention than it deserves. The language used in the book is simple and to-the-point. All the technical terms are explained (and collected into a useful glossary at the end of the book). The author has also used a lot of figures to visually aid the understanding of complex topics, and it really helps. Another thing I liked is the several chapters on the applications of genetics to modern science and research. Topics like the Human Genome Project, Forensic genetics, Cancer, Gene therapy and Cloning are presented, and are very interesting to read about, especially with the newly gained understanding of the basics of genetics. On the cons side, I felt that the author assumed too much prior knowledge of some subjects, and too little of other subjects. For example, while the chapter on cell chemistry assumes some basis of understanding of chemistry and biology, the discussion of heredity is done on extremely basic terms, assuming that the reader doesn't know how to count percentages and basic coin-flip chances. All in all, this is a good book that fills its intended role very well.


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