488 pages, 265 line illus
During the past four decades, molecular biology has dominated the life sciences. Curiously, no participant in this scientific revolution has previously attempted a book-length history of the development of this powerful science. Harrison ('Hatch') Echols provides such an account in "Operators and Promoters". A gifted molecular biologist and talented raconteur, Echols relates the intellectual history of the most influential discoveries in molecular biology from his own experiences. Echols joins his vast knowledge of biology with personal interviews of the principal operators and promoters in the field to convey a captivating side of science - specifically, how the personalities of scientists and their competitive and collaborative relations affect new ideas and discoveries.The author reveals how logic and order often arise only in hindsight from the chaos of discovery; eventual solutions often come from experiments performed for entirely different reasons. Echols also shares his deep-seated feelings for the science itself, communicating his admiration, even awe, for the purity and simplicity with which life systems are organized. This gripping insider's account of the first fifty years of molecular biology ties together the biological questions with the scientific solutions of the people who established the field. It will appeal not only to students and those interested in the development of the discipline, but to anyone intrigued by the human side of science and the process of scientific inquiry and discovery.
It is the best kind of history, because it presents the ideas and experiments in their scientific and human context, so reading it is almost like living through the period again - and will make it come alive for those who arrived on the scene later. - Evelyn Witkin, Rutgers University; "It is an absolutely thrilling account of the development of molecular biology as we know it. I can barely contain my enthusiasm for it." - Robert Lehman, Stanford University Medical Center; "Echols was a gifted molecular biologist. We see now that he was also a talented storyteller. Echols enriches his tale of the molecular biology revolution with many first-person observations. Operators and Promoters presents not just the key concepts and experiments but also the personalities involved. The scholarship is superb." - Thomas R. Cech, President, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; "This book is alive with the process of doing molecular biology. The 'facts' of science are clearly and elegantly presented." - Nancy L. Craig, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; "In his book, Echols presents a combined perspective that no other 'insider' book offers: he is realistic about what makes people work, and their drives and flaws, but in equal measure he is passionate and idealistic about what science can be." - Sharon R. Long, Stanford University
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Until his death in 1992, Harrison Echols was a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Carol A. Gross, his spouse and herself a major participant in the field, is a professor in the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology and Stomatology at the University of California, San Francisco.