Blood Matters: From Inherited Illness to Designer Babies, How the World and I Found Ourselves in the Future of the Gene

Masha Gessen

Harcourt,  April 2008

In 2004 genetic testing revealed that Masha Gessen had a mutation that predisposed her to ovarian and breast cancer. The discovery initiated Gessen into a club of sorts: the small (but exponentially expanding) group of people in possession of a new and different way of knowing themselves through what is inscribed in the strands of their DNA. As she wrestled with a wrenching personal decision -- what to do with such knowledge -- Gessen explored the landscape of this brave new world, speaking with others like her and with experts including medical researchers, historians, and religious thinkers.

Blood Matters is a much-needed field guide to this unfamiliar and unsettling territory. It explores the way genetic information is shaping the decisions we make, not only about our physical and emotional health but about whom we marry, the children we bear, even the personality traits we long to have. And it helps us come to terms with the radical transformation genetic information is engineering in our most basic sense of who we are and what we might become.

hardcover | ISBN: 9780151013623 | Publication Date: April 2008

"A harrowing, sharply observed, fascinating book -- a journal of Gessen's compelling inner and outward journey through science, family, and fate."
--Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief and My Kind of Place

"With grace and fearlessness, Masha Gessen holds up a bright light to show the impact of genetic testing and the knowledge it reveals to us. Not only is this book exceptional storytelling and reporting, it is nothing short of an illumination."
--Marisa Acocella Marchetto, author of Cancer Vixen

"Blood Matters is beautifully written -- and that is the least of its charms. Taking readers from the leading edge of modern genetic medicine through the grittiest kinds of personal experience, Masha Gessen gently yet unflinchingly confronts the life-and-death questions that come from our deepening knowledge of our genetic selves. The story she tells has versions encoded in every human being alive -- Blood Matters is both a marvelous read and an important book."
--Thomas Levenson, author of Einstein in Berlin