Books: Detective Story

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CREATION by Horace Freeland Judson

Simon & Schuster; 686 pages; $15.95

To anyone who took high school or college biology before the enlightenment of the 1950s, the subject was closed. Even the magical initials DNA were scarcely known outside the scientific priesthood. But while the public remained ignorant of the intellectual time bomb silently ticking in its midst, a few young renegades created a startlingly new discipline that they called molecular biology.

It audaciously examined the most profound of all genetic questions: How do living things pass on characteristics from one generation to the next? The answer turned out to...

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