Barbara McClintock was one of the premier investigators in cytology and classical genetics, but her work was pushed out of the mainstream by the revolution in molecular biology in the middle of this century. Thirty years later, the simple truths sought by research scientists whose training was closer to physics than biology continued to prove elusive, and the discovery of transposons in bacteria marked the beginning of a revival of interest in her work. Keller's analysis of McClintock's difficulty in finding a place to work and her relations with other investigators is insightful and thought-provoking, not only about women in science, but about the role of dissent in the scientific community.
For much of her life she worked alone, brilliant but eccentric, with ideas that made little sense to her colleagues. Yet before DNA and the molecular revolution, Barbara McClintock's tireless analysis of corn led her to uncover some of the deepest, most intricate secrets of genetic organization. Nearly forty years later, her insights would bring her a MacArthur Foundation grant, the Nobel Prize, and long overdue recognition. At her recent death at age 90, she was widely acknowledged as one of the most significant figures in 20th-century science.Evelyn Fox Keller's acclaimed biography, A Feeling for the Organism, gives us the full story of McClintock's pioneering-although sometimes professionally difficult-career in cytology and genetics. The book now appears in a special edition marking the 10th anniversary of its original publication.