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A tiny scrap of genetic information determines our sex; it also consigns many of us to a life of disease, directs or disrupts the everyday working of our bodies, and forces women to live as genetic chimeras. The culprit--so necessary and yet the source of such upheaval--is the X chromosome, and this is its story. An enlightening and entertaining tour of the cultural and natural history of this intriguing member of the genome, The X in Sex traces the journey toward our current understanding of the nature of X. From its chance discovery in the nineteenth century to the promise and implications of ongoing research, David Bainbridge shows how the X evolved and where it and its counterpart Y are going, how it helps assign developing human babies their sex--and maybe even their sexuality--and how it affects our lives in infinitely complex and subtle ways. X offers cures for disease, challenges our cultural, ethical, and scientific assumptions about maleness and femaleness, and has even reshaped our views of human evolution and human nature. Table of Contents: Prologue 1. Making a Difference Interlude: What Is It, Exactly? 2. The Duke of Kent's Testicles Interlude: How Sexy Is X? 3. The Double Life of Women Epilogue: The Chosen One Further Reading Glossary Index Reviews of this book: The author of Making Babies takes a lively, witty tour of the X chromosome, creator of "a delicious symmetry between men and women"...Entertaining and informative...A fine demonstration of science made accessible. --Kirkus Reviews Reviews of this book: A well-written, well-researched, easy-to-read study that explains what has been learned about the X and Y chromosomes using DNA sequencing and other molecular biology techniques. British biologist Bainbridge...has pulled together historical and current scientific research about how the X and Y chromosomes affect us and what the genes on these chromosomes actually do, like causing sex-linked diseases and color blindness...An excellent example of good science writing...Recommended. --Margaret Henderson, Library Journal Reviews of this book: Bainbridge is an essentialist, interested in understanding what aspects of gender are biologically driven, and why...He has a central question he wants to answer. The question is not so much why men and women are different (a worn topic that's the subject of too many Mars-and-Venus bestsellers) but, far more specific and far more interesting: Why are men and women more different than they need to be? --Liza Mundy, Washington Post Reviews of this book: Bainbridge summarizes our knowledge of the genetic information that determines one's sex by recounting the ancients' speculations about the genesis of gender, following with modern biologists' discovery of the X and Y chromosomes about a century ago, and of the sex-determining gene Sry in the 1990s. In a discussion rich with history, evolution, and philosophy, Bainbridge points out the dramatic effect that gender selection has on people's lives...A fascinating, often humorous analysis of the science of sexuality. --Gilbert Taylor, Booklist Reviews of this book: In The X in Sex, David Bainbridge explains the far-reaching effects of X. Bainbridge...moves with ease between straightforward accounts of biology and historical stories about its effect, like the chapter describing the progression of hemophilia through the royal houses of Europe. Bainbridge discusses cultural history as well as natural history, and his wit enlivens every page. --Christine Kenneally, New York Times Book Review Reviews of this book: There are many literary stars (such as Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins and Matt Ridley) in the firmament of writers on evolution, and to a man they write with dash and persuasive logic. David Bainbridge is one such and in his latest book he takes the reader through the glories of the X chromosome at a cracking pace. --Miriam Stoppard, Times Higher Education Supplement (UK) Reviews of this book: The truth is that the behaviours of [chromosomes] X and Y are inextricably linked. Bainbridge explores this link in a compelling tale that takes in how the sex chromosomes became sex chromosomes, and the very different consequences of this for women and men. Along the way we encounter the Duke of Kent's testicles, calico cats and non-identical identical twin girls. His story weaves science, history and the history of science (with a little religion for good measure) in a straightforward, anecdotal fashion that will appeal to scientists and non-scientists alike. --Mark T. Ross, New Scientist (UK) Reviews of this book: In his structure/function analysis of the X chromosome, Bainbridge provides a tongue-in-cheek, yet informative, description of one of the two human sex chromosomes. --R. Adler, Choice Reviews of this book: If you have ever been intrigued by some of the puzzles of genetics--why boys tend to get haemophilia or colour blindness while girls are more likely to have an identical twin or to develop rheumatoid arthritis later in life--then The X in Sex is for you. --Chris Tyler-Smith, Times Literary Supplement David Bainbridge takes us on a fascinating tour of X chromosomes and explains what the possession of these intricately folded, infinitessimally narrow, two-inch long strings of genetic codes weighing almost nothing, means for their bearers--that is for each one of us, male and female. History and personal anecdotes are woven together with up-to-date summaries of the science, punctuated with Bainbridge's zany--and very British--humor, so that this information-packed book is pure pleasure to read. --Sarah Blaffer Hrdy author of Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection The X in Sex is absolutely fascinating, so intriguing, in fact, that I found myself unwilling to put it down. David Bainbridge surveys an astonishing amount of new information from recent genomic studies of the X chromosome, clearly explaining the findings in a way the average person can easily follow. The science is presented via amusing and highly appropriate metaphors and clever turns of phrase, all of which serve to brighten the prose and present the reader with catchy ways to think about complex ideas. This is an informative, authoritative, and thoroughly enjoyable read: one of the best books I have read in recent years. --Jane Lancaster, University of New Mexico This is wonderful stuff--beautifully written, clear, jargon-free, with anecdotes sure to hold the attention. --other hupauthorTim Birkhead, author of Promiscuity: An Evolutionary History of Sperm Competition
Human genomes are 99.9 percent identical—with one prominent exception. Instead of a matching pair of X chromosomes, men carry a single X, coupled with a tiny chromosome called the Y. Tracking the emergence of a new and distinctive way of thinking about sex represented by the unalterable, simple, and visually compelling binary of the X and Y chromosomes, Sex Itself examines the interaction between cultural gender norms and genetic theories of sex from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present, postgenomic age. Using methods from history, philosophy, and gender studies of science, Sarah S. Richardson uncovers how gender has helped to shape the research practices, questions asked, theories and models, and descriptive language used in sex chromosome research. From the earliest theories of chromosomal sex determination, to the mid-century hypothesis of the aggressive XYY supermale, to the debate about Y chromosome degeneration, to the recent claim that male and female genomes are more different than those of humans and chimpanzees, Richardson shows how cultural gender conceptions influence the genetic science of sex. Richardson shows how sexual science of the past continues to resonate, in ways both subtle and explicit, in contemporary research on the genetics of sex and gender. With the completion of the Human Genome Project, genes and chromosomes are moving to the center of the biology of sex. Sex Itself offers a compelling argument for the importance of ongoing critical dialogue on how cultural conceptions of gender operate within the science of sex.
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