What We’re Reading: Woolly

woolly the true story of the quest to revive one of history's most iconic extinct creatures by ben mezrich book cover

Available at the OCC Library on new books shelf (QE 882 .P8 M49 2017)

This book was read by Meredith Lewis, the Orange County Campus librarian.

Genre: Narrative Scientific Nonfiction [the author is telling a true story, but re-creates some of the dialogue and events as though he were there]

#ReadGreatThings2018 Categor(ies): A popular science book

Find out more about the Read Great Things Challenge here.

What is this book about? 

This book is about genetic engineering and its potential, ideas on how to help stop the greenhouse gases trapped in the Siberian permafrost, and MAMMOTHS. Though this book tells the story of the convergence of the Pleistocene Park in Siberia and Harvard University’s Woolly Mammoth Revival Project, it brings up some really interesting questions about science, specifically the field of genetics: Just because we can [maybe, probably?] do something, should we do it, and how do we weigh the consequences. As the author says after a particularly interesting misunderstanding between the scientists and the press, “[G]enetics [i]s a powerful tool, but also an ethical minefield” (157).


Why did you choose to read this book?

Well, woolly mammoths are cool. I started another book about mammoths last year and never finished it* and then this book came along and here we are. 

Did it remind you of any other book, or a movie?

The obvious connection is Jurassic Park, either the book  or one of the movies (available in the Durham Tech Library), right? The book mentions it and I even learned that the reason that it isn’t possible to extract dinosaur DNA from something like amber is that over time DNA degrades and no longer actually exists in that thing that is preserved in the amber.

Side note: Woolly actually has been optioned for a movie. So that’s probably happening next year or so. Prepare yourself.

What would you pair this book with?

A healthy sense of skepticism, all accompanied with a sense of fascination with the world of science and its potential.

*An opportunity for another check box for me on the #ReadGreatThings2018 Challenge: A book you previously started and never finished

About Meredith Lewis

Meredith is a reference librarian at Durham Tech on both the Main and Orange County Campuses. She likes fantasy, science-fiction, and historical fiction and is trying to be a better reader of non-fiction (just after she finishes that stack of novels on her bedside table...)