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Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History's Most Iconic Extinct Creatures

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Ben Mezrich takes us on an exhilarating true adventure story from the icy terrain of Siberia to the cutting-edge genetic labs of Harvard University. A group of young scientists, under the guidance of Dr. George Church, the most brilliant geneticist of our time, works to make fantasy reality by sequencing the DNA of a frozen woolly mammoth harvested from above the Arctic ci Ben Mezrich takes us on an exhilarating true adventure story from the icy terrain of Siberia to the cutting-edge genetic labs of Harvard University. A group of young scientists, under the guidance of Dr. George Church, the most brilliant geneticist of our time, works to make fantasy reality by sequencing the DNA of a frozen woolly mammoth harvested from above the Arctic circle, and splicing elements of that sequence into the DNA of a modern elephant. Will they be able to turn the hybrid cells into a functional embryo and bring the extinct creatures to life in our modern world? Along with Church and his team of Harvard scientists, a world-famous conservationist and a genius Russian scientist plan to turn a tract of the Siberian tundra into Pleistocene Park, populating the permafrost with ancient herbivores as a hedge against an environmental ticking time bomb.


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Ben Mezrich takes us on an exhilarating true adventure story from the icy terrain of Siberia to the cutting-edge genetic labs of Harvard University. A group of young scientists, under the guidance of Dr. George Church, the most brilliant geneticist of our time, works to make fantasy reality by sequencing the DNA of a frozen woolly mammoth harvested from above the Arctic ci Ben Mezrich takes us on an exhilarating true adventure story from the icy terrain of Siberia to the cutting-edge genetic labs of Harvard University. A group of young scientists, under the guidance of Dr. George Church, the most brilliant geneticist of our time, works to make fantasy reality by sequencing the DNA of a frozen woolly mammoth harvested from above the Arctic circle, and splicing elements of that sequence into the DNA of a modern elephant. Will they be able to turn the hybrid cells into a functional embryo and bring the extinct creatures to life in our modern world? Along with Church and his team of Harvard scientists, a world-famous conservationist and a genius Russian scientist plan to turn a tract of the Siberian tundra into Pleistocene Park, populating the permafrost with ancient herbivores as a hedge against an environmental ticking time bomb.

30 review for Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History's Most Iconic Extinct Creatures

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    Mezrich picks interesting topics, I will concede that. Readers may already have heard some years ago that a Harvard lab was working on de-extinction of the Woolly Mammoth. Mezrich brings us up to date on this project; indeed, the first and last chapters in this “nonfiction” are set in the future. If you are familiar with Mezrich’s writing, the author weights the concept narrative nonfiction heavily on the narrative and fiction sides, ostensibly to stoke momentum and get folks interested. The only Mezrich picks interesting topics, I will concede that. Readers may already have heard some years ago that a Harvard lab was working on de-extinction of the Woolly Mammoth. Mezrich brings us up to date on this project; indeed, the first and last chapters in this “nonfiction” are set in the future. If you are familiar with Mezrich’s writing, the author weights the concept narrative nonfiction heavily on the narrative and fiction sides, ostensibly to stoke momentum and get folks interested. The only problem is that his very good instincts about what is intrinsically an interesting story fights with his method. Sometimes the reader has to thrash through pages of invented dialogue to reach a critical conclusion, a real buzz killer if there ever was one. But this story works on many levels, and while we are following his careful step-by-step thrust with one eye, our mind is busy on the operations of a lab and the implications of the study for medicine, for wildlife, for every aspect of our visible and invisible world. Mezrich eventually addresses many of these key issues in the text, usually making the science sound responsible and considered. I started to grow more uncomfortable towards the end of the book, when we are reminded that the science has progressed so far so fast that genomic modifications have escaped the lab environment and can be undertaken in a made-over garage for relatively small costs, and that billionaires of every stripe are lining up to make their money count for something big. The real excitement of this story is in our imaginations, and what the skills and knowledge of present-day scientists can allow us to imagine. Mezrich places us in fund-raising meetings with billionaires, allowing the most humble among us to enjoy the same stories and sense of excitement that fuels movers and shakers. If the glamour of the whole thing begins to seem suspect at some point, I think you’ve caught my sense of unease. Mezrich shares the history of the project, including the work by Nikita Zimov in Northern Siberia, determining that wooly mammoths seemed to have played a role in preserving the permafrost levels of the tundra, by upturning the soil and exposing lower layers to the freezing temperatures. His father, Sergey Zimov, apparently theorized that reestablishing animal herds that roamed Siberia earlier in human history might play a role in keeping escaping carbon and methane, now sequestered in permafrost, from accelerating the speed at which the earth warms. The fact that woolly mammoth remains are discovered regularly now in thawing and melting ice and snow of the north is something I had not known. The ancient ivory from the tusks is not protected and is therefore an important source of income for hunters, sold in lieu of protected elephant tusks, for the same reasons, to the same buyers. The scientists involved in the story at one of the Church labs at Harvard are fascinating individuals in their own right, each with a backstory that only fuels our interest. The project has been going on long enough now that the twenty-something personnel involved at the beginning of the project are turning it over to others, younger ones still, to ensure continuity of skills on such a forward-looking project. The whole concept and execution of the mammoth idea is sufficiently…mammoth…and complex enough to make readers feel as though they have been subtly changed by the experience. (view spoiler)[The real life story ends with woolly mammoth DNA implanted in an elephant cell. Dr. Frank Church, the originator of this project, to his credit, decides not to use elephants to gestate the beast that might develop, but to construct a synthetic uterus. That is currently underway. Stay tuned. (hide spoiler)]

  2. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    The story told in this book was fascinating, but I found the creative nonfiction method employed in telling it waaaay too creative. I actually spent the first thirty pages or so trying to make sure the book was actually nonfiction at all. Some Googling proved that, yes, these people are real and are actually doing what the book purports- attempting to de-extinct the woolly mammoth through cutting edge genetic engineering. Fascinating. But the book seemed in such a rush to be fascinating and to s The story told in this book was fascinating, but I found the creative nonfiction method employed in telling it waaaay too creative. I actually spent the first thirty pages or so trying to make sure the book was actually nonfiction at all. Some Googling proved that, yes, these people are real and are actually doing what the book purports- attempting to de-extinct the woolly mammoth through cutting edge genetic engineering. Fascinating. But the book seemed in such a rush to be fascinating and to set up scenes for the already-optioned movie that it failed to come across as serious. There were even scenes set in the future, after a woolly mammoth has supposedly been created and born. I wanted a bit less creativity and narrative and a few more facts, maybe a footnote or a reference. Intriguing but ultimately too superficial to be satisfying.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    . . . "it's only science fiction until we remove the fiction. Then it becomes real." Mezrich's book offers an interesting look at one scientific team's efforts to bring back the Woolly Mammoth. They weren't going to clone a Woolly Mammoth. They were going to make one. They weren't going to transfer genetic material from a frozen carcass, they were going to create the material in a dish and implant it within a living elephant cell. The book reads like a novel, and definitely entertains, though the . . . "it's only science fiction until we remove the fiction. Then it becomes real." Mezrich's book offers an interesting look at one scientific team's efforts to bring back the Woolly Mammoth. They weren't going to clone a Woolly Mammoth. They were going to make one. They weren't going to transfer genetic material from a frozen carcass, they were going to create the material in a dish and implant it within a living elephant cell. The book reads like a novel, and definitely entertains, though the text seems light on real facts. There's no satisfying ending to the tale, other than to say we won't be booking our tickets to Pleistocene Park any time soon . . .

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History's Most Iconic Extinct Creatures is mostly about the hows and whys, with a little bit about the shoulds?. It provides a good starting point for the layman who's interested in genetics. This could also work as the biography of geneticist George Church. Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History's Most Iconic Extinct Creatures is mostly about the hows and whys, with a little bit about the shoulds?. It provides a good starting point for the layman who's interested in genetics. This could also work as the biography of geneticist George Church.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah B

    I found this nonfiction book about the science project to bring back the woolly mammoth amazing! We've all seen the famous Jurassic Park and how they created dinosaurs in the movie, but this book explains how scientists could do it for real - but it would be with mammoths instead of dinosaurs. Now I like science and I think you should like science or at least be curious about it to read this book. There's a lot of science in here with lots of big words and talk about DNA and petri dishes. Luckily I found this nonfiction book about the science project to bring back the woolly mammoth amazing! We've all seen the famous Jurassic Park and how they created dinosaurs in the movie, but this book explains how scientists could do it for real - but it would be with mammoths instead of dinosaurs. Now I like science and I think you should like science or at least be curious about it to read this book. There's a lot of science in here with lots of big words and talk about DNA and petri dishes. Luckily it's written in a very easy to read way. In fact I found the writing style smooth flowing. I didn't expect to get hooked on this book from page one but I did! I just couldn't put it down (and I had only intended to glance at the opening chapter)... You don't really need to be a scientist to read this but a very basic idea of what DNA is would be helpful. Basically this is the life story of the scientist named George Church..in many ways it's a biography as the book tells his story on how he set out to bring the Mammoth back to life..now I'm not one for reading biographies! But I actually loved this one! Why? I liked reading about his problems in the lab and how he solved them. I just found it so interesting! There are also chapters on how they dig up the remains of extinct animals in the far north, places like Siberia. And the bits about the animals were fascinating!! I had no idea that a pasture kept the earth cooler than a forest or a jungle! Or that herd animals had anything to do with the permafrost. I just loved this little tibits! And there's a few others scattered throughout the book, too, but that one was my favorite. Apparently large herds serve a purpose and it's better for the environment. And it's amazing to think there are scientists out there right now busy working on this. I had heard about the project for the dino-chicken but I hadn't heard about this one! The book also covers other science projects like how to tackle lime disease on Nantucket and another project about mosquitoes. A great read! I'm glad I found this book!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    A great overview of what's been happening in the mammoth restoration project. Is there a satisfying conclusion? Or course not, unless I missed that mammoth herd from the latest Discovery Channel documentary. This is a work in progress - a tediously complicated task of figuring out how to bring back an animal that's been extinct for thousands of years, and whose DNA is not readily available to the science to play with. This is not a cloning project per se, but a reconstruction effort - a reverse A great overview of what's been happening in the mammoth restoration project. Is there a satisfying conclusion? Or course not, unless I missed that mammoth herd from the latest Discovery Channel documentary. This is a work in progress - a tediously complicated task of figuring out how to bring back an animal that's been extinct for thousands of years, and whose DNA is not readily available to the science to play with. This is not a cloning project per se, but a reconstruction effort - a reverse engineering, an invention of the wheel lost to time. It's truly fascinating. If you are considering picking up this book for yourself, please consider what your expectations are. More than anything Woolly is true to it's tagline: "the Quest to Revive". Therefore you will learn more about the scientists involved and hurdles they go through every day, instead of getting to the nitty-gritty descriptions of genetic manipulations. Woolly is a story of humans working on mammoths, not a biology class on the extinct animal. You will not learn a lot of actual science, but you will understand what challenges are being faced and what creative solutions are being used. The author uses quite a literary style for his nonfiction, which might throw some people off, but I enjoyed seeing the relatable side of the top scientists that might come off unapproachable otherwise. And just for fun, perhaps we are getting closer to getting that pesky DNA: Controversial T. Rex Soft Tissue Find Finally Explained [Live Science]

  7. 5 out of 5

    Zachary

    The topic of the book is an interesting story of science, and the central figure, George Church, truly is brilliant and awesome. I actually use some of the techniques mentioned in the book in my own work. However, the story is told in such an over-dramatic, hyperbolic style as to be nearly unreadable. Mezrich has really done his subject a disservice. It doesn't help that his depiction of science is of the same ilk as CSI. I'm sorry, but it's not as whiz bang as all that. All in all, a major miss The topic of the book is an interesting story of science, and the central figure, George Church, truly is brilliant and awesome. I actually use some of the techniques mentioned in the book in my own work. However, the story is told in such an over-dramatic, hyperbolic style as to be nearly unreadable. Mezrich has really done his subject a disservice. It doesn't help that his depiction of science is of the same ilk as CSI. I'm sorry, but it's not as whiz bang as all that. All in all, a major miss.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Literally this was my fantasy while ignoring the teachers in AP bio. I have wanted a woolly mammoth since I was a little girl, and I am 100% on board for this. #thedreamlives

  9. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Kyriosity

    Loss of one star and a public flogging for the use of iconic in the subtitle. Other than that, this was fun. There's no extinct species I'd rather see Jurassic-Parkified than the mammoth. The book was a bit too heavy on the creative nonfiction side of the scale, but there's such a sci-fi feel to the deextinction endeavor that it kinda works for a popular treatment of the subject. I believe that any kind of human or chimerical human cloning is morally off limits, but I think there's more room for Loss of one star and a public flogging for the use of iconic in the subtitle. Other than that, this was fun. There's no extinct species I'd rather see Jurassic-Parkified than the mammoth. The book was a bit too heavy on the creative nonfiction side of the scale, but there's such a sci-fi feel to the deextinction endeavor that it kinda works for a popular treatment of the subject. I believe that any kind of human or chimerical human cloning is morally off limits, but I think there's more room for tinkering with animal DNA. Especially where we broke things, e.g., the passenger pigeon, I think it makes sense for us to try to fix them. (We've broken ourselves most dramatically, but, unlike the critters, we need a Savior to fix us.) I'd be interested in a more knowledgeable, thoughtful examination of the ethics in view of the Dominion Mandate, though. The author did a decent job narrating, and it was fun to have Church's and Brand's voices at the end.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Erin Kelly

    This was such an interesting book. The science is beyond my understanding, for the most part, but it was presented in an accessible way—enough that I was able to engage and understand the lab work. This read much like a novel; its structure is unique and compelling and driven as much by character as the story itself. A+

  11. 5 out of 5

    Randal White

    Started out fantastic for first third of the book. Slowed way down, story got rather lost in all the technical jargon. Less than satisfying ending. Last 40% of book was just citations and index.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    I don't think I'm going to keep reading this book, barely even nonfiction. I was very uncomfortable with the novelistic invented dialogue and scene setting, all of which is unnecessary if the source material is interesting. I don't think I'm going to keep reading this book, barely even nonfiction. I was very uncomfortable with the novelistic invented dialogue and scene setting, all of which is unnecessary if the source material is interesting.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    It's impossible to fight your way through the filler in this book in order to get to any science. This is not what I wanted. It's impossible to fight your way through the filler in this book in order to get to any science. This is not what I wanted.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Creative nonfiction chronicling the work of geneticists on current research about the woolly mammoth. Unfortunately, the book is light on facts and only superficially addresses questions of ethics, funding, scientific philosophies, etc. Not awful, but not stimulating either.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dixie

    I was hoping for something different. perhaps that colored my opinion. not that good. as I said, hoped it would be different

  16. 4 out of 5

    J.M.

    Fascinating look at the science of genetics and a project that may one day bring the Woolly Mammoth back to life.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Conor Ahern

    This felt clumsily written and half-told. Only cool for random mammoth facts. Also this guy is way too high on Harvard's supply. Get over it! This felt clumsily written and half-told. Only cool for random mammoth facts. Also this guy is way too high on Harvard's supply. Get over it!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robert Cox

    The juice wasn’t worth the squeeze on this one.... not his best topic. Highlight was learning a little more about the cloning vs DNA alteration options when it comes to bringing back the extinct. #hardpass

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Super weird style mixing fact with fiction, just too many liberties taken with this. Made it 80 pages before moving on to something else.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Edward Fenner

    This is creative non-fiction, not straight-up non-fiction. I knew that going in but this book goes way beyond the boundaries of CNF and is mostly entirely a fictional novel based on real info. More like speculative fiction. I couldn't get past the first 50 pages. I skimmed around further ahead and wasn't seeing much different so I bailed - and I rarely bail on a book. This is creative non-fiction, not straight-up non-fiction. I knew that going in but this book goes way beyond the boundaries of CNF and is mostly entirely a fictional novel based on real info. More like speculative fiction. I couldn't get past the first 50 pages. I skimmed around further ahead and wasn't seeing much different so I bailed - and I rarely bail on a book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    Neat science story about the process (and rationale) of reviving the mammoth and other extinct species, and the characters involved in recent attempts. I hope to see a mammoth in my lifetime, and of course I am one of those annoying persons discussed in the book who'd appreciate a miniature version to keep as pets, as well! Neat science story about the process (and rationale) of reviving the mammoth and other extinct species, and the characters involved in recent attempts. I hope to see a mammoth in my lifetime, and of course I am one of those annoying persons discussed in the book who'd appreciate a miniature version to keep as pets, as well!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Embry

    As a fan of all things Pleistocene, Ben Mezrich’s book jumped out at me from a display table at Dallas’ newest independent bookstore, Interabang Books. How could I resist a title like Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History’s Most Iconic Extinct Creatures? True, even fans of woolly mammoths (you didn’t think the book was about sheep, did you?) know only too well that the great Ice Age beasts no longer walk the earth. But until – if – living mammoths can be cloned or otherwis As a fan of all things Pleistocene, Ben Mezrich’s book jumped out at me from a display table at Dallas’ newest independent bookstore, Interabang Books. How could I resist a title like Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History’s Most Iconic Extinct Creatures? True, even fans of woolly mammoths (you didn’t think the book was about sheep, did you?) know only too well that the great Ice Age beasts no longer walk the earth. But until – if – living mammoths can be cloned or otherwise brought to life, we can feed our hopes with the possible ways that might happen. The book’s cover notes, soon to be a major motion picture, and Mezrich’s mosaic of opening scenes consciously mirror those of that other major motion picture about extinct monstrous animals, Jurassic Park. Mezrich’s technique can, however, be disconcerting in book form, with readers forced to jump from the viewpoint of the very last living woolly mammoths 3,000 years ago to a hypothetical scene of the future of the 21st century; from the early childhood in steamy Florida of American geneticist George M. Church to a truck drive across the icy Siberian wilderness; and on and on. Scientifically minded readers should be warned that Mezrich (or his editors) can have a cavalier way with words. Elk antlers are blithely referred to as “horns,” small herbivores as “omnivorous,” and musk oxen as hybrids of an ox, goat and sheep. (Or possibly as hybridizing with all three of these species. I can’t quite make out which Mezrich has in mind.) Less mammoth-infatuated readers may also wonder why anyone would spend the time (and money) to resurrect a long-extinct species when so many modern ones are in danger of extinction. Woolly tries to answer these skeptics, and in doing so skims through a host of stories as fascinating in their own right as any thriller. There’s the eccentric and dyslexic scientist Church, zoologist turned geneticist intent on re-engineering the genomes of creatures from rodents to humans to mammoths. Church, Mezrich writes, decided after visiting the 1964-1965 World’s Fair that he was a time traveler from the future, desperate to find his way back. And his wife, Chao-ting Wu (Ting to her friends), a Chinese immigrant whose race, sex, and yes, marriage blocked her scientific career path for years. Or Stewart Brand, founder of the iconoclastic bible, Whole Earth Catalogue, and his wife, biotech entrepreneur Ryan Phelan, have dedicated themselves to resurrecting extinct species. (In an afterword to Woolly, Brand reports that the first proxy passenger pigeons may be alive as early as 2022.) Other leading candidates for revival, he writes, include the Tasmanian tiger, New Zealand moas, and ivory-billed woodpecker. Most intriguing to me are Russians Nikita Zimov and his father Sergey, who for decades have worked to restore moss and lichen Arctic tundras to their Pleistocene lushness, which once supported vast herds of giant herbivores. Including woolly mammoths. The Zimovs’ dream doesn’t involve resurrecting extinct species for their own sake, but using restored Arctic grasslands to halt global warming. (The Zimovs believe the tread of large herbivore hoofs makes the upper permafrost area of soil more amenable to the growth of grass.) So, even without living woolly mammoths, there would be plenty to report. Woolly, however, fails to deliver adequately on these promises. Near the beginning, and again near the end, Mezrich tempts readers with possible views of mammoths four years from today. . . and three years from today. Maybe he hopes that by the time of the cover’s promised “major motion picture” materializes, there will be more to show.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    I was tempted to shelve this under fiction, for the way M. writes, with dates, flash backs, flash forwards, reconstructed thoughts and conversations, resembles one style of science fiction writing. However, the events and scientific experiments and results are true. And given that just recently artificial wombs for lamb fetus have been made successfully, the implantation of an Asian elephant fertilized egg, with some reconstituted (or inserted) mammoth DNA, into such a womb has become closer to I was tempted to shelve this under fiction, for the way M. writes, with dates, flash backs, flash forwards, reconstructed thoughts and conversations, resembles one style of science fiction writing. However, the events and scientific experiments and results are true. And given that just recently artificial wombs for lamb fetus have been made successfully, the implantation of an Asian elephant fertilized egg, with some reconstituted (or inserted) mammoth DNA, into such a womb has become closer to reality. Some ten genes of the mammoth have been reconstituted, for the red hair, blood adaption to cold, etc. and also the mammoth tail (why this is important to have is not explained in the book--was it hairy? long, short, or what, nor of course how the mammoth used it--for signaling inter alia?). And of course the use of CRISPR here in the mammoth reconstruction has already been used to change at the aides mosquito such that males, though able to mate, have their offspring die before reaching maturity, thus enabling communities to decrease the population without using dangerous chemical sprays and thus decrease the spread of dengue. So the reconstitution of the mammoth is becoming more of a possibility. BTW I now understand much better how CRISPR works and found that it is a natural process in bacteria that we can now apply extremely interesting. M. also explains clearly why the mammoth is the focus of reconstitution. For arctic ecology. The Netherlands is not the only place where someone is trying to rebuild the paleo climate and terrain. There is a place in the Russian Arctic, now over 20 years into the process, that intends to dampen, if not end, the danger of release of carbon dioxide from melting permafrost by reintroducing paleo creatures such as the moose---and as a result that territory is ecologically quite different from "untreated" territory. It is not so much that the mammoth is so iconic--it is--but that its ability to terraform the land in a way that smaller animals (such as the moose!) cannot. A good read, popularized science, but well researched--even if it does read like a novel!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    I'm a little conflicted about how to rate this book. The science was something I truly found fascinating and was what I ended up enjoying the most. I agree with other reviewers that the Narrative Non-Fiction aspect was a big miss for me. I don't like that I'm unsure of which elements of the story are fully untrue, partially true but embellished or completely factual. Given that the book is based on a research project which is still currently ongoing it feels like there shouldn't be any embellish I'm a little conflicted about how to rate this book. The science was something I truly found fascinating and was what I ended up enjoying the most. I agree with other reviewers that the Narrative Non-Fiction aspect was a big miss for me. I don't like that I'm unsure of which elements of the story are fully untrue, partially true but embellished or completely factual. Given that the book is based on a research project which is still currently ongoing it feels like there shouldn't be any embellishments or untruths needed. That is something that I could forgive if the author was writing about something which happened decades in the past but for a book about a current event it was really off putting. I also found it very distracting. There is a whole scene about someone gazing at a seagull that I kept thinking, why is this in here? Did the person tell the author specifically about looking at this bird? Why am I still reading about this bird? What could this moment possibly have added to this scene? Another thing that threw me off, and admittedly I knew this aspect going in, was the fact that they haven't actually managed to bring back a Woolly Mammoth. It made the whole book seem incomplete. I thought the scenes set in the fictional future were kind of weird and only made the jump from 'we're still working on this' to 'hey we've got mammoths walking around' that much more harsh. I think that's my biggest critique about this book. Why write it now? They are still fully in the middle of the project, have zero confirmation that it will actually work. It just felt premature, as though someone wanted to write a book about this project before anyone else could. Like writing a scientific research paper because the topic was trendy but not actually having the data/facts to back it up (something which basically is detailed in this book by another science lab regarding human cloning). For me this was similar to reading a grant when you wanted to read a paper. It was an interesting enough half of a book but definitely needs the other half (when the project is actually complete) for me to consider this a fully realized book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    CoCo

    3.5 stars really. This is a tough one to review. It was utterly engaging HOWEVER, as other folks have mentioned, the creative nonfiction took a few too many liberties for my liking--including two chapters that take place three to four years in the future. I would have preferred endnotes and more sourcing, and I caught a few errors that may have been typos but ended up being factually incorrect. For example, Bill Gates is married to Melinda Gates, not Melissa. This lack of attention to detail bug 3.5 stars really. This is a tough one to review. It was utterly engaging HOWEVER, as other folks have mentioned, the creative nonfiction took a few too many liberties for my liking--including two chapters that take place three to four years in the future. I would have preferred endnotes and more sourcing, and I caught a few errors that may have been typos but ended up being factually incorrect. For example, Bill Gates is married to Melinda Gates, not Melissa. This lack of attention to detail bugs me a lot, especially in a nonfiction book. That said, the science itself was fascinating and my favorite chapter was the afterword, written by a conservationist that summarized all the near-future de-extinctions that may be possible through genetic engineering. This was a cheerful book for someone who has recently read Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction, as it mentioned some potential solutions to the terrifying threat of climate change and other human-caused extinctions. It was a fun read, if a little questionable, and I'll definitely watch the forthcoming film adaption.

  26. 4 out of 5

    James

    3.5 stars I have to say that I enjoyed this book. It is a kind of fictionalized non-fiction that I don't like in concept but it worked. It was short and easy to read. The science was light but informative - enough to make you both excited about the potential of genetic manipulation and afraid of the potential for abuse. Maybe it was because I had just finished reading All Our Wrong Todays, but I couldn't help thinking of the concept from that book, that when you invent a new technology, you also 3.5 stars I have to say that I enjoyed this book. It is a kind of fictionalized non-fiction that I don't like in concept but it worked. It was short and easy to read. The science was light but informative - enough to make you both excited about the potential of genetic manipulation and afraid of the potential for abuse. Maybe it was because I had just finished reading All Our Wrong Todays, but I couldn't help thinking of the concept from that book, that when you invent a new technology, you also invent the accident of that technology. The work of these scientists and naturalists is fascinating. Their hopes and plans for the future are important and inspiring, but with a rate of progress of 4 times Moore's Law, how long will it be before gene hackers can set up shop in their basements. Before brilliant, bullied and alienated young men find a new way to unleash their fury on the world.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Jacob

    Wow! I don't know whether to be fascinated or frightened by the genetic engineering possibilities that are out there. Equally interesting is the story of each and every person featured in the book. They give a better understanding of why scientists are so fascinated by bioengineering. There are both ethical and environmental issues to ponder. Scientists seem to feel that re-introducing the woolly mammoth could prevent further destruction of permafrost and thus prevent the emission of greenhouse Wow! I don't know whether to be fascinated or frightened by the genetic engineering possibilities that are out there. Equally interesting is the story of each and every person featured in the book. They give a better understanding of why scientists are so fascinated by bioengineering. There are both ethical and environmental issues to ponder. Scientists seem to feel that re-introducing the woolly mammoth could prevent further destruction of permafrost and thus prevent the emission of greenhouse gases that will be overwhelming if we lose the permafrost. There is much to ponder; much to be excited about and much to fear. I also enjoyed hearing the scientists' voices presenting some important points in the end of the book. This is an audio book not to be missed. You don't have to be into science or science fiction to enjoy this book that outlines our future.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jo-Ann

    Wow. What a great book! I learned so much and supremely enjoying the story telling. This is the first book by Ben Mezrich that I read but it won't be the last. The topic of course is of great interest to me. Science, genetics and conservation combined with stories about a vast assortment of actors at play in these areas. The connection of how the resurrection of the woolly mammoth "will help to defuse the ticking time bomb hidden in the frozen north" is fascinating to me. The tremendous respect t Wow. What a great book! I learned so much and supremely enjoying the story telling. This is the first book by Ben Mezrich that I read but it won't be the last. The topic of course is of great interest to me. Science, genetics and conservation combined with stories about a vast assortment of actors at play in these areas. The connection of how the resurrection of the woolly mammoth "will help to defuse the ticking time bomb hidden in the frozen north" is fascinating to me. The tremendous respect that Ben has for Dr. George Church, who is responsible for cutting-edge genetic labs at Harvard University, is clearly evident in his writing. After reading this book, I can understand why he does. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand more about genetics and some of the major players in this sphere.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eliot Peper

    Woolly tells the incredible true story of the race currently underway among leading scientists around the world to revive the woolly mammoth. To track this de-extinction movement, Mezrich takes us on a fast-paced, highly readable tour through South Korean cloning facilities, bustling Harvard genetics labs, and desolate Siberian tundra. Mezrich's distinctive style of narrative nonfiction brings the characters to life, from legendary biologist George Church to iconoclastic thinker Stewart Brand. I Woolly tells the incredible true story of the race currently underway among leading scientists around the world to revive the woolly mammoth. To track this de-extinction movement, Mezrich takes us on a fast-paced, highly readable tour through South Korean cloning facilities, bustling Harvard genetics labs, and desolate Siberian tundra. Mezrich's distinctive style of narrative nonfiction brings the characters to life, from legendary biologist George Church to iconoclastic thinker Stewart Brand. It's a fascinating peek into the sausage factory of cutting edge scientific research and the personalities that drive it forward.

  30. 5 out of 5

    D.R. Oestreicher

    Reading and writing. The three-billion-dollar Human Genome Project established the technology to read DNA. While the first human gene sequence cost the aforementioned $3,000,000,000 in 2003, the same feat can now be completed for under $1,000. Woolly by Ben Mezrich explores the possibilities for writing DNA, also known as synthetic biology. If you were fascinated by Jurassic Park, you'll love this book which hypothesizes ways to return extinct animals without the terror of Michael Crichton's imag Reading and writing. The three-billion-dollar Human Genome Project established the technology to read DNA. While the first human gene sequence cost the aforementioned $3,000,000,000 in 2003, the same feat can now be completed for under $1,000. Woolly by Ben Mezrich explores the possibilities for writing DNA, also known as synthetic biology. If you were fascinated by Jurassic Park, you'll love this book which hypothesizes ways to return extinct animals without the terror of Michael Crichton's imagination, but with the benefits of forestalling climate change and improving human health. For more: checkout http://1book42day.blogspot.com/2017/1...

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