Russian Journal of Genetics, Vol. 39, No. 4, 2003, p. 482. Translated from Genetika, Vol. 39, No. 4, 2003, pp. 588–589. Original Russian Text Copyright © 2003 by Bochkov. BOOK REVIEWS E. B. Muzrukova, T. H. Morgan and Genetics, Moscow: Kraal’, 2002 Thomas H. Morgan is undoubtedly one of the of the book is absolutely adequate to its contents. The brightest personalities in the history of biology of the study covers the period of the development of biology 20th century. Morgan was among those who laid the from the last decades of the 19th century to the mid- basis of the chromosomal theory of heredity, which has 20th century. The author pursues the main idea of the largely shaped the modern science. He is equally remark- book with exceptional consistency, without skips or able as the founder of an original line of research, as well unnecessary repetitions, and ends with analysis of Mor- as the head and inspirer of a strong research school, many gan’s general biological and theoretical views. representatives of which (including Morgan himself) won The author has paid much attention to the origins of Nobel Prizes. Therefore, the interest of biologists and his- chromosomal theory (Chapters 1 and 2) that lie in cytol- torians of biology in this phenomenon of the world culture ogy and evolutionary theory, which is vital for adequate is justiﬁed and not unexpected. estimation of chromosomal theory in terms of modern Morgan’s ideas were referred to in almost every spe- genetics. The programs of W. Roux and Morgan had cial publication, his greatness being expressed in the much in common, although, technically, these scientists very fact that Lysenkoists tried to make him out to be an adhered to entirely different principles. Analytical “evil genius” of the socialist society. There are some (causal) thinking was characteristic of Morgan’s works works on the Morgan’s personal contribution into to an equally high degree as it was characteristic of genetics. However, there was an unfortunate gap in Roux’s. Indeed, the picture of chromosome was a result “Morganistics,” which was connected with what I of the long-term, meticulous, and careful work, and this would call genetic (from genesis) conﬁnement of his picture was formed long before the biochemical nature creative work to the social and cultural context of the of genetic factors was discovered. Such a picture would epoch. With great satisfaction, I assert that the book never have appeared if Morgan and his followers had T.H. Morgan and Genetics: Morgan’s Science Program remained within the realm of pure experimentation and in the Context of the Progress in Biology of the had not used simulation (within the possibilities of the 20th Century by E.B. Muzrukova ﬁlls this gap. period), extrapolation, and abstract schemes. The monograph by Muzrukova deals with a whole All experiments performed for testing and conﬁrm- set of science history issues, including the genesis of a ing the original hypothesis in the 1910s were also char- science program; the role of a person in science; the acterized by purpose-oriented planning paving the way formation of the chromosomal theory of heredity, one for subsequent genetically “pure” research. At the same of the most important concepts in biology of the 20th time, one work after another describes Morgan as a typ- century; the attitude to this theory in different countries, ical “empiricist” opposed to any speculation. This notion which was equivocal and sometimes dramatic; and, was shared by Morgan himself, who enjoyed jokes and ﬁnally, the place that Morgan and his followers’ con- paradoxes (which Muzrukova notes). Muzrukova postu- cept occupies among traditional branches and problems lates nothing and relies on bare facts to lead the readers of life science. The work is based on rich material, gradually and with great caution to understanding the which was not easily available and has been thoroughly one-sidedness of this interpretation of Morgan’s creative analyzed. Undoubtedly, the numerous works of the work. The author does this mainly by analyzing Mor- author played a crucial role in the setting and attaining gan’s program of research (Chapters 4 and 6). The very the goal of the monograph. Note that, in this book, material of these chapters, looked at a new angle, is an Muzrukova goes considerably farther than in the pre- important contribution into the history of genetics. ceding monographs, uncovering whole layers of new The conclusions drawn by Muzrukova are carefully facts and conceptual constructions of genetics and considered and well grounded. The language of the showing not only excellent special knowledge, but also book is simple and clear, which is especially difﬁcult to the mastery of very complex material. attain when describing genetic experiments. Undoubt- The study by Muzrukova is entirely innovative. edly, all readers who are interested in the history of Before this book, neither Western no Russian historians genetics will read the book with great interest and plea- of science have ever elucidated both the research activ- sure. It seems especially useful for university profes- ity of Morgan, one of the most prominent biologists of sors and students. the 20th century, and the science program which he developed and which encompasses numerous problems of related branches of biology. In this respect, the title N. P. Bochkov 1022-7954/03/3904-0482$25.00 © 2003 MAIK ÒNauka / Interperiodica”
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 7, 2004
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