James Watson's Double Helix, his account of the discovery of the structure of DNA, was first published in 1968, and the Guardian's Tim Radford takes a look back at it. "I have now read the book four or five times … and it remains startling, and in unexpected ways, startlingly good," Radford writes. He notes that neither Francis Crick nor Maurice Wilkins wanted the book to be published, and adds that while the passage of time has smoothed over some of the objections, "the passages about Rosalind Franklin remain as cruel as ever."
"But it remains a compelling book: compelling precisely because of some of the things that caused offence at the time," he says. "It presents science as a messy, confused but collegiate enterprise in which any advance is dependent on other people's achievements, but that nevertheless rewards only winners; and it presents Crick and Watson as two people who set out to be winners."