George G Brownlee
Cambridge University Press, £27.00
I have rarely seen a biography presented in this way, with scene-setting chapters at the start followed by interview transcripts. It makes for a very interesting read.
You get a real feel for the early life of Fred Sanger and the influences that helped to shape him. A prevailing theme running through the book is the unassuming nature of the man and how through hard work, perseverance and a passion for unlocking the great puzzles of the age, Sanger and his various teams first tackled the structure of insulin (for which he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry) and then later developed powerful and innovative tools to unlock sequences of DNA and RNA.
Sanger might be best described as an inventor as well as a scientist, as through the book much of his time is devoted to creating new, innovative methods for the developing science of biology, which, at the time, wasn't considered a proper science discipline.
This is a great read and one that I would recommend to any student considering a career in the biological sciences – they will find a hero in Sanger and, in doing so, will be inspired.