Surely the last word--if a long one--on 20th-century genetics and molecular biology. This is really three books in one. The section serialized in the New Yorker is the exegesis on Watson and Crick and the development of the double helix model of DNA. In other parts, Judson further develops the background of molecular biology and Nobel achievements in the realm of dissecting, delineating, and reconstructing fundamental biological molecules. He seems to have talked to all the dramatis personae and many appear to be friends of long standing, so that their appearance, testimony, and often contrasting memories of the same events have a liveliness beyond the run of skilled reportage. The scandalous DNA story--with its accounts of jealousies, competition, high ambition, acrimony--is no longer news, of course. Watson remains the pivotal figure, the gadfly, universally respected but still a thorn. Crick, Pauling, Perutz, Chargaff, Wilkins, and the enigmatic Rosalind Franklin are among the many whose motives and behavior are closely examined--with what appears to be exquisite fairness. While many a reader may bog down in the elaboration of the science, Judson is cleft at putting the developments of the past 30 or 40 years in perspective. The sentences may be half again too long in places, and parenthetical identifications of individuals intrusive, but one can live with them. Much of the writing is beautiful, the detailing of events is rigorous and precise, and the result is a combination of high art and drama in unfolding one of the major turning points in the history of science.