Cover: Lysenko’s Ghost: Epigenetics and Russia, from Harvard University PressCover: Lysenko’s Ghost in HARDCOVER

Lysenko’s Ghost

Epigenetics and Russia

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Product Details


$24.95 • £19.95 • €22.50

ISBN 9780674089051

Publication Date: 04/11/2016


224 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

28 halftones


[Graham’s] survey of the terrifying milieu in which Lysenko thrived includes a discussion of the eugenics movement in the Soviet Union, and the short book thus encompasses two major types of threat to the integrity of scientific inquiry: institutional interference from without and political infection from within. The latter threat, in particular, is ever present… Graham’s survey of Lysenkoism and eugenics in Soviet Russia contains important lessons about threats to the health of science.—Nicholas Wade, The Wall Street Journal

Graham’s book is a timely and important antidote to the idea that everything that is not mainstream heredity is Lysenkoism.—Maurizio Meloni, Science

The ways that politics, religion, cultural norms, and ideologies of all kinds distort science is at the heart of Lysenko’s Ghost. Those ideologies can alter our interpretation of facts and reshape our understanding of natural events.—Maggie Koerth-Baker, Technology Review

Graham offers a sweeping history of the concept of inheritance of acquired characteristics as it shaped, and was shaped by, philosophy and politics in the 19th and 20th century. The book highlights how the scientific process can be imperiled when political objectives—here, Lysenko’s goals for demonstrating that environmental conditions can induce heritable biological change—are prioritized over experimental design and data analysis.—D. P. Genereux, Choice

Graham has delivered an account of one of the most infamous and important, yet least-known episodes in twentieth-century science—one on which he is the leading scholar.—Edward O. Wilson

This book adds valuable new insights into the current debates concerning elements of the newly emerging field of epigenetics and its connections to the older debates about the inheritance of acquired characteristics, especially in the context of Russia and the theories of Lysenko. Graham is in command of the materials throughout and in many cases he is one of the few who knows the materials at hand.—Everett Mendelsohn, Harvard University

A thoughtful, historically grounded, and engaging commentary on current Russian perspectives on Lysenko and his legacy in the context of recent developments in epigenetics and Russian politics and culture.—Daniel Todes, Johns Hopkins University

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