The Best Books About Biotechnology

By Alexis C. Madrigal

Here's my biotech reading list. I'd love your help fleshing it out.

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I've spent the last few weeks creating a syllabus for myself on the world -- people, techniques, theory, history -- of biotechnology. I've talked with some scholars, accepted some Amazon recommendations, and done some rummaging around in bibliographies, but I'm only getting started. I thought I'd list my recent acquisitions here in hopes that you'll help me flesh my little self-taught course out. You know how to get a hold of me: comments here, @alexismadrigal, or amadrigal[at]theatlantic.com. 

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(Oh, and I'm also looking for journals and blogs that I should be keeping an eye on.) 

Right now, I'm pretty heavy on the theoretical and anthropological investigations of biotechnology. I'd like more basic texts on the techniques and some more scientist/technologist accounts of their own work and how it's shaped their thinking. If you can't tell from the readings, what I'm most interested in is the nature of life from the perspective of the people who manipulate it. 

Here's the list, sorted alphabetically by author last name:

Life as Surplus: Biotechnology and Capitalism in the Neoliberal Era by Melinda Cooper

Dolly Mixtures: The Remaking of Genealogy by Sarah Franklin

Invisible Frontiers: The Race to Synthesize a Human Gene by Stephen Hall

How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics by N. Katherine Hayles

Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas by Stefan Helmreich

Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech by Sally Smith Hughes

Refiguring Life by Evelyn Fox Keller

Secrets of Life, Secrets of Death: Essays on Language, Gender, and Science by Evelyn Fox Keller

Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors, and Machines by Evelyn Fox Keller

Culturing Life: How Cells Became Technologies by Hannah Landecker

The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death by Jill Lepore

What Is Life? by Lynn Margolis and Dorion Sagan

Making PCR: A Story of Biotechnology by Paul Rabinow

Biocapital: The Constitution of Post-Genomic Life by Kaushik Sunder Rajan

What Is Life? Investigating the Nature of Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology by Ed Regis

What Is Life? by Erwin Schrodinger

The Scientific Life: A Moral History of a Late Modern Vocation by Steven Shapin

Liminal Lives: Imagining the Human at the Frontiers of Bioscience by Susan Merrill Squier

Making Parents: The Ontological Choreography of Reproductive Technologies by Charis Thompson

Biotech: The Countercultural Origins of an Industry by Eric Vettel

UPDATE! Additions from readers:

Frankenstein's Cat by Emily Anthes
Suggested by Kristopher Hite

Her-2 by Robert Bazell
Suggested by @jacquimiller via email

Red Canary by Tim Birkhead 
Suggested by Jackson Cahn in the comments

The Uses of Life: A History of Biotechnology by Robert Bud
Suggested by Nathan Crowe

Biology Is Technology by Rob Carlson
Suggested by Adam Rutherford

Regenesis by George Church and Ed Regis
Suggested by Todd Gailun

The Life of a Virus: Tobacco Mosaic Virus as an Experimental Model, 1930-1965 by Angela Creager 
Suggested by Peter Sachs Collopy

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
Suggested by @jacquimiller via email

Drugs for Life: How Pharmaceutical Companies Define Our Health by Joseph Dumit
Suggested by Kevin Donovan

Building Biotechnology: Business, Regulations, Patents, Law, Politics, Science by Yali Friedman
Suggested by watson42 in the comments

Our Posthuman Future by Francis Fukuyama
Suggested by Todd Gailun

The Eighth Day of Creation by Horace Freeland Judson
Suggested by Todd Gailun and Mike Mossing via email

Who Wrote the Book of Life? A History of the Genetic Code by Lily Kay
Suggested by Peter Sachs Collopy

Lords of the Fly by Robert Kohler
Suggested by Peter Sachs Collopy

Queering Reproduction: Achieving Pregnancy in the Age of Technoscience by Laura Mamo
Suggested by Deanna Day

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddharta Mukarjee
Suggested by @jacquimiller via email

Controlling Human Heredity by Diane Paul
Suggested by Peter Sachs Collopy

Controlling Life: Jacques Loeb and the Engineering Ideal in Biology by Philip Pauly
Suggested by Peter Sachs Collopy

Making Mice: Standardizing Animals for American Biomedical Research, 1900-1955 by Karen Rader
Suggested by Suzanne Fischer and Peter Sachs Collopy

Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America by Rayna Rapp
Suggested by Peter Sachs Collopy

The Strongest Boy in the World by Philip Reilly
Suggested by Odoacer in the comments

The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age by Harriet Ritvo
Suggested by Dan Cohen

From Alchemy to IPO by Cynthia Robbins-Roth
Suggested by @jacquimiller via email

Creation by Adam Rutherford, out June 2013
Suggested by Ed Yong

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Suggested by Nicole Zara

Gene Dreams by Robert Teitelman
Suggested by Ben Temple via email

Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self by Elly Teman
Suggested by Deanna Day

The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas
Suggested by Todd Gailun

Double Helix by James Watson
Suggested by @jacquimiller via email

The Future of Life by EO Wilson
Suggested by @jacquimiller via email

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/03/the-best-books-about-biotechnology/273683/