search by author or title

The Secret of Life

Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and the Discovery of DNA's Double Helix


Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D. (View Bio)
Hardcover: W. W. Norton & Co., 2021.

The Secret of Life

Biologist James Watson and physicist Francis Crick’s 1953 revelation about the double helix structure of DNA is the foundation of virtually every advance in our modern understanding of genetics and molecular biology. But how did Watson and Crick do it?and why were they the ones who succeeded?

In truth, the discovery of DNA’s structure is the story of a race among five scientists for advancement, fame, and immortality: Watson, Crick, Rosalind Franklin, Maurice Wilkins, and Linus Pauling. They were fascinating and brilliant, with strong personalities that often clashed. But it is Rosalind Franklin who becomes a focal point for Howard Markel. The Secret of Life is a story of genius and perseverance, but also a saga of cronyism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and misconduct. Markel brilliantly recounts the intense intellectual journey, and the fraught personal relationships, that resulted in the discovery of DNA

Dr. Markel has written a definitive history of the race to unravel DNA's structure.

With 65 illustrations!