by Richard V. Kowles

Prometheus Books, $25.00, 337 pages

Genetics, of course, is a very broad topic. Dr. Kowles does indeed cover a broad range of issues in The Wonder Of Genetics. Included are: the Human Genome Project, genetically modified food, genetics and criminality, gene therapy for treating illnesses, cloning, genes and aging, genetic misconceptions, and the political and social implications of the field. Besides illustrations to help explain the scientific concepts, some really wonderful cartoons are included.

While the author intends to explain genetic sciences to both lay people and scientists (quite a challenge), to show how heredity works and how it is studied in plants and animals without overloading the reader with technical jargon, he does not quite accomplish this end. For example, words like:  aneuploid, brachydactyly, hemizygous, palindrome, and much more, left this reviewer, a lay person, boggled from time to time. Nonetheless, that which I could understand was so fascinating that I never gave a thought to putting the book down. Those with a good general knowledge of biology will have no problem at all, and for the rest of us, there is a comprehensive glossary for reference.

Reviewed by Rosalie West