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Publisher's Summary

From New York Times best-selling author Sam Kean come more incredible stories of science, history, language, and music, as told by our own DNA.
In The Disappearing Spoon, best-selling author Sam Kean unlocked the mysteries of the periodic table. In The Violinist's Thumb, he explores the wonders of the magical building block of life: DNA.
There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes illuminate everything from JFK's bronze skin (it wasn't a tan) to Einstein's genius. They prove that Neanderthals and humans bred thousands of years more recently than any of us would feel comfortable thinking. They can even allow some people, because of the exceptional flexibility of their thumbs and fingers, to become truly singular violinists.
Kean's vibrant storytelling once again makes science entertaining, explaining human history and whimsy while showing how DNA will influence our species' future.
©2012 Sam Kean; 2012 Hachette Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Traci on 08-18-12

So much to think about!

"The Violinists Thumb" was awesome. I ended up having to take notes because it was so thought provoking. This book isn't a light read. If you have no foundation of dna and genes this might not be a great first. The narrator was tolerable and well suited for this type of book.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Richard on 04-13-13

a Magnum Opus

Would you consider the audio edition of The Violinist's Thumb to be better than the print version?

Only in terms of ease of access while driving or heading off to sleep at night is it superior. Missing are the pertinent illustrations that might lend to clarification, but this is only a small impediment. Overall it is a better work in audible format, mainly due to the elegant and perfectly timed narration of Henry Leyva portraying San Keene's finest work yet.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Violinist's Thumb?

The odd Russian era of almost creating human/chimpanzee outcrosses= humanzees. Read the book to find out if it ever really happened.

Which scene was your favorite?

Description of Nicolo Paganini's more flexible dexterity feats under the assumption that he may have had Ehler's Danloss Syndrome. Of course, a complete explanation of every genetic quirk and misfire of a whole range of genetic aberrations is well explained throughout the entire book. Understanding what goes wrong is how we advance in this detailed and salient field of work.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Exploring the genetic minglings of the physically sorrowful Hapsurb dynasty. And of course the moving passages about what happened to Einstein's brain after his death. Keene makes historical figures come to life in all cases.

Any additional comments?

Do not let terminology and vernacular turn you away. Wikipedia everything you don't understand, soak it all in and then run it a second time. This book makes one realize how many shoulders scientific discovery has stood upon, lifting its focus now into well understood human and Neanderthall genome sequencing and paleogenetics. This has been my favorite book ever via Audible.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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