Sex, Love and DNA: What Molecular Biology Teaches Us About Being Human

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Sex, Love and DNA is NOT is a textbook on molecular biology. Certainly beyond a molecular biology book for dummies (and there actually is one with that title), Schattner’s scientific manuscript, the first he’s written for nonscientists, is directed toward those who not only want to learn the most recent advances in genetic research, but more importantly to develop a healthy understanding about its complexities.

Scientist, educator, and seasoned writer Peter Schattner takes a difficult topic and translates it into everyday language. Logically, the place to begin is to understand the essential components of molecular biology – proteins and DNA. Yet Schattner’s approach to “going over the basics” is contrary to what one may expect. For instance, Schattner opens with a question: can a protein save you from AIDS? To best answer that question, Schattner uses stories and anecdotes and then breaks it down to mini lessons, so to speak (and in this case, proteins — “the most important building blocks of life”), which is followed by molecular studies. If fact, what makes his book so attention grabbing is Schattner’s fastidiousness to that question-story-research design and by always raising questions that have universal appeal.

Although Schattner divides his book into six parts, the sections each build upon one another “to tell a unified story” about the aspects of being human. Schattner’s initial question about AIDS is, in a fictional sense, a clever narrative hook since it is not only a hot-topic issue, but it also leads itself into the area of genealogy, which offers the best answer to the question. The research that has been done on paternal and maternal analysis and DNA testing, for examples, is nothing less than fascinating. Amid the enlightenment, Schattner makes sure to raise awareness about another aspect of DNA testing regarding its moral and ethical ramifications, especially in the area of unborn children.

Schattner addresses a plethora of questions that range from memory, intelligence and various emotions to a whole list of diseases and the concept of longevity, as well as the environmental implications that may affect many of those topics. Particularly striking to the latest molecular research are topics on sexual orientation and gender. Schattner takes readers to a whole new level of scientific knowledge that goes beyond XY and XX chromosomes, the distinguishable male and female factors that many may remember from biology class. Studies consistently prove that gene variants within the chromosomes definitely produce feminine traits within men and masculine traits within women. While determinants of gender identity are still mystifying scientists, Schattner concludes that “although we may not yet understand the biological details of sexual orientation or gender dysphoria, biology has already taught us important lessons, and the most important is that people who are homosexual or bisexual or transsexual are in no way deviant or sick. Their challenges rarely stem from their intrinsic differences, but rather from the hostile attitudes and behavior they have been forced to face.”

Sex, Love and DNA is not only immensely absorbing and eye opening from one chapter to the next, but a tool that offers readers an opportunity to come face to face with facts that, if taken seriously, will lead to wholesome viewpoints toward the human race.

Chris Hayden

Chris Hayden been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.


Reviewed By:

Author Peter Schattner
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 382 pages
Publisher Olingo Press
Publish Date 25-Sep-2014
ISBN 9780991422517
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue December 2014
Category Science & Nature
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