London: Readers Union / Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969. Hardcover. Octavo size, 143 pp., signed by James D. Watson. Near Fine / Very Good. Item #16011613
The desire to understand the chemical makeup of living things was in full force during the 1950s, epitomised in the work of scientists James D. Watson (b. 1928) and Francis Crick (1916-2004), credited with the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, for which Watson and Crick, along with Maurice Wilkins, jointly won the Nobel Prize in 1962; this work is detailed in Watson's memoir "The Double Helix".
The memoir was unusual at the time, as personal accounts of scientific discoveries were uncommon; the memoir sparked controversy over Watson's willingness to use other scientists' data, possibly without their knowledge, to form his conclusions, and for his somewhat disparaging attitude toward Dr Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), whose work on X-ray diffraction was vital to the discovery of the shape of DNA.
This volume was published one year after the first edition of Watson's book, with this copy signed by him on the title page; the book today is still considered one of the seminal writings about a critical scientific discovery.
___DESCRIPTION: Full black cloth, gilt lettering on the spine, severl black-and-white illustrations and diagrams of DNA strands and molecules, six facsimile pages of a letter to Max Delbürck (1906-1981), a biophysicist influential on Watson and Crick's work, regarding the double helix at the back of the book; octavo size (8.25" by 5"), pagination: [i-iv] v-viii 1-128 [129-135], signed by James D. Watson on the title page. In a blue paper dust jacket with title and abstracted illustration of a double helix inside a white oval on the front panel, white and black lettering on the spine, same abstracted illustration on the rear panel, an ad for Everymans Library on the front flap, and an order form on the rear flap; the dust jacket is unclipped with the original price of 35s on the front flap.
___CONDITION: Volume is near fine, with clean boards, straight corners without rubbing, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the interior is clean and bright, and entirely free of prior owner markings; spine is very slightly cocked, and pages 7 and 8 have a light stain to the fore-edge margins. The dust jacket is very good, unclipped, clean overall with minor soiling, slight overall edge wear, spine is lightly sunned, and there is light toning to the interior.
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