I enjoyed this book immensely! Biographies of brilliant people might be a completely untapped source of reading pleasure for me. Surely, a lot of it is due to Ridley’s easy style and entertaining anecdotes; I have only read his “Genome” and can’t remember how I felt about it, but I’ll definitely read more of his works in the future.
But what I loved the most was finding out about this astonishing man, who I always thought had stood in Watson’s shadow, which was apparently not the case at all.
I was so enamoured with Crick by half-way through the book that I was totally shocked by the revelations about his radical views (at least he held them in the 1960s and 70s) on races, eugenics and sterilisation of “genetically inferior” people. I don’t know what to do with this information and it seems like neither did Ridley. It is mentioned dutifully but the author doesn’t really take a position and maybe that is not the job of a biographer. As I uneasily read on about this man with the incredible imagination, admiration gained the upper hand again and by the end I cried when he dies.
The fact that Crick was a raging (yes!) atheist helped, of course, but the main reason for liking him is expressed in this last sentence of the epilogue: “He would have liked to find the seat of consciousness and to see the retreat of religion. He had to settle for explaining life.”