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This was a really interesting book. If The Genome Odyssey were a course, Dr. Ashley would have a high score on because he has the unique ability of making a subject matter both engaging and easily understandable. His infectious enthusiasm for genetics and cardiovascular medicine and sense of humor makes this less of a dry lecture on genetics and more of an (admittedly one-sided) conversation. From his writing style, you get the sense that he's the type of approachable, passionate, brilliant mind you'd want working on your loved one in the hospital. As one of the first co-chair of the steering committee of the Undiagnosed Diseases Network, he's seen and treated patients with some of the rarest conditions in the world, so there's plenty of interesting material in this book. This is definitely accessible for non-medical professionals, but I think you'll have to at least have a bit of a science nerd in you to enjoy this.

Despite the fascinating anecdotes and compelling patient cases, the book is a bit dense. Ashley not only provides us with the history of field of genetics and his own personal history, he gives us a lot of background related to medicine and cardiovascular treatment. On their own, most of the stories are interesting (defibrillation having its origins in a horse-shocking experiment, for example,) but when they're added to all the other material in the book, they seem a bit irrelevant and distracting. I'd absolutely read a book by Dr. Ashley focused on cardiovascular medicine, just not while I'm simultaneously trying to read about genetics. The many descriptions of the various people involved in different projects is also a bit overwhelming. I appreciate the whole teamwork aspect and desire to acknowledge everyone's individual contribution, but it got to the point where my eyes started glazing over whenever I came across a proper noun. I also wish he'd addressed some of the ethical issues related to some of the advances in genetics. He very briefly mentioned the controversial use of CRISPR in the birth of the world's first gene-edited babies but otherwise was super gung-ho about the future of genetics. He's, understandably, slightly biased, but I just think it would've been a more compelling book if he'd included a section on potential areas of ethical concern.

This is a comprehensive, pop-science book on genetics written with expertise and humor. I'd recommend it to House MD fans, science nerds, and WebMD enthusiasts.