cover image The Secret of Life: Redesigning the Living World

The Secret of Life: Redesigning the Living World

David T. Suzuki, Joseph Levine. Wgbh Boston, $24.95 (280pp) ISBN 978-0-9636881-0-1

The impact of advances in molecular biology on our daily lives is the theme of this stunningly illustrated companion to a PBS series. Biologist Levine and geneticist Suzuki (the series' host) scan the frustrating search for vaccines to combat AIDS and take readers inside the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta where researchers are devising strategies to ``teach'' the immune system to ward off viruses. The authors also scrutinize attempts to isolate genes implicated in cancer and examine medical and commercial applications spawned by biotechnology, with its attendant ethical dilemmas and potential environmental hazards. Looking to the future, they detail the potential of gene therapy as a tool to correct genetic defects, to ``enhance'' normal characteristics or to cure hereditary diseases. This volume, which stands on its own as a scholarly survey, concludes with an impartial review of the controversy over whether specific genes can make people smart, shy, criminal, alcoholic, manic-depressive or homosexual. (Oct.)