Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity

Eternal Sonata

Genesis Code

The Depths of the Sea

Western Responses to Human Rights Abuses in Cambodia, 1975-80

Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity

After 3.8 billion years humankind is about to start evolving by new rules…

From leading geopolitical expert and technology futurist Jamie Metzl comes a groundbreaking exploration of the many ways genetic-engineering is shaking the core foundations of our lives ― sex, war, love, and death.

At the dawn of the genetics revolution, our DNA is becoming as readable, writable, and hackable as our information technology. But as humanity starts retooling our own genetic code, the choices we make today will be the difference between realizing breathtaking advances in human well-being and descending into a dangerous and potentially deadly genetic arms race.

Enter the laboratories where scientists are turning science fiction into reality. Look towards a future where our deepest beliefs, morals, religions, and politics are challenged like never before and the very essence of what it means to be human is at play. When we can engineer our future children, massively extend our lifespans, build life from scratch, and recreate the plant and animal world, should we?

Passionate, provocative, and highly illuminating, Hacking Darwin is the must read book about the future of our species.

Original publication date: April 23, 2019. The highly revised paperback edition of this bestselling book was released by Sourcebooks in April 2020.

Interviews and reviews

The Portal | April 12, 2020

Science Fantastic Podcast | April 11, 2020

thinkspot | April 8, 2020

The PEN Pod | April 1, 2020 (Germany) | March 4, 2020

Focus Online (Germany) | February 12, 2020

Story in the Public Square | January 15, 2020

FAD or FUTURE podcast, hosted by Joey Thurman | December 20, 2019

Normalife! podcast | November 20, 2019

The Jordan Harbinger Show | September 19, 2019

Five-part FOX Houston series | August 26-30, 2019

Vanity Fair | August 30, 2019

The Rubin Report | August 21, 2019

Curious with Josh Peck | July 31, 2019

The James Altucher Show | July 23, 2019

FOMO Sapiens | July 11, 2019

Inspired Money | June 11, 2019

Nature | May 14, 2019

Joe Rogan Experience | May 9, 2019

Fox LA | May 8, 2019

NPR | May 2, 2019

BBC | April 29, 2019

Blue Zones | April 26, 2019

Smithsonian | April 25, 2019

Economist | April 25, 2019

Amanpour & Co., PBS | April 24, 2019

Genetic Literacy Project | April 23, 2019

Forbes | April 20, 2019

Bloomberg podcast | April 16, 2019 (interview with Jamie begins at minute 13)

Intelligence Matters, CBS News | April 16, 2019

Future State | April 15, 2019

Express | April 9, 2019

Kansas City Jewish Chronicle | April 5, 2019

Creative Life podcast | April 2, 2019

Publishers Weekly | January 24, 2019

Kirkus | January 21, 2019

NPR Tech Nation | December 12, 2018

Praise for Hacking Darwin

“In Hacking Darwin…world-famous futurist Jamie Metzl appeals to all humans of good will to together face the ethical and social problems raised by human genetic engineering.”
— Osservatore Romano (the official Vatican newspaper)

“Jamie Metzl’s book — ranging through genetics, human destiny and the future — is an incredible trove of information for scientists, futurists, technologists, entrepreneurs, and virtually every intrigued, interested reader. A gifted and thoughtful writer, Metzl brings us to the frontiers of biology and technology, and reveals a world full of promise and peril. This is a must-read book.”
— Siddhartha Mukherjee MD, New York Times bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene: An Intimate History

Whether you already run the whitewater of transhumanism or oppose changing one atom of any species, you will see we have a revolution in our midst — one of engineering genes, possibly surpassing the space, atomic, and electronic revolutions in its significance. It is a transformation we ignore at great risk. To help prepare us for what’s coming, Jamie Metzl guides us brilliantly down the twisting and ever-changing river of our genetic future in this important and thought-provoking book. Beyond the issues of efficacy and safety, he thoughtfully explores the ultimately more critical issues of diversity, equality, and respect for each other and our common humanity.
— George Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and author of Regenesis

“In many ways, Jamie Metzl has been preparing Hacking Darwin for the last 20 years and his diligence shines through. Jamie is a gifted writer and his explanation of genetics are crisp, accurate, and wonderfully engaging. If you can only read one book on the future of our species, this is it.”
— Sanjay Gupta MD, bestseller author, neurosurgeon, and Emmy-award winning chief medical correspondent (CNN)

“Jamie Metzl possesses a nearly superhuman ability to take in vast amounts of research and synthesize it into disruptive, beautifully-wrought prose. To borrow a term from the book, Hacking Darwin is an intellectual masterbatortium — at once stimulating and consummately satisfying.”
— Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author of Blue Zones Solution and Blue Zones of Happiness

“Jamie Metzl’s Hacking Darwin is an outstanding guide to the most important conversation of our lives — how we humans will hijack our evolutionary process and transcend the limits of our own biology.”
— Ray Kurzweil, inventor and futurist, author of The Singularity is Near and How to Create a Mind

“Genetic technologies contain extraordinary promise — and breathtaking challenges — with the potential to change virtually every aspect of our lives. In the pages of Hacking Darwin, Jamie Metzl takes us on a critical journey through opportunities and obstacles on humanity’s greatest expedition: the exploration and re-imagining of what it means to be human.”
— Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles

“Jamie Metzl has written a personal, funny, unpretentious and ultimately deeply optimistic book about how the human race will transform itself through genomics. In his enthusiastic embrace of our technological future, Metzl gives voice to the adventure of biological discovery without losing sight of the risks. Hacking Darwin is a witty introduction to a wide variety of themes within genomics, and is at its most profound when imagining not just the science, but the social and geopolitical reactions that will accrue throughout the world. Metzl writes about real science with the flair of a science fiction writer, and in the process challenges us to begin a complex but necessary conversation about how humanity will evolve.”
— Robert C. Green, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine (Genetics), Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Broad Institute and Harvard Medical School

“This wildly exciting and highly accessible book kidnaps us on a ride to the future, demonstrating in thrilling detail how our species’ ability to transform and improve the genetic makeup of our offspring will explode over the course of our lifetimes and beyond. Even as a scientist working in the field of human longevity and genetics, this book blew my mind. It should be required reading for scientists, doctors, and anybody else whose life and those of their children will be touched by genetic technologies — which is just about all of us. Our world is changing rapidly, and we could have no better guide to the profound opportunities, challenges, and ethical complexities of the genetics revolution than Jamie Metzl.”
— Nir Barzilai M.D., The Rennert Chair of Aging Research Professor of Medicine and Genetics, Director of The Institute for Aging Research; The Glenn Center for the Biology of Human Aging; NSC of Excellence in the Biology of Aging (NIH). Albert Einstein College of Medicine

“Jamie Metzl’s Hacking Darwin should be required reading for business executive, scientists, worriers, and dreamers — for anyone interested in the future of science and humanity. Bit by bit, with wit and grace, he shows how we are rebuilding the very notion of what it means to be human, and how we will inevitably be changed in that process.”
— Debora Spar, author of The Baby Business and Baker Foundation Professor, Harvard Business School

“Humans taking control of human evolution is happening now and it could be the most significant thing we have done since we learned how to make and use fire. When history looks back on this period, it will not focus on the shiny objects that grab the attention of media today, but rather on the tech breakthroughs that Metzl explains in such clear language. Hacking Darwin is essential reading if you want to understand what will be seen as the most important thing happening in this epoch.”
— Richard A. Clarke, former White House National Security official and bestselling author of WARNINGS

“Breathtaking advances in artificial intelligence, genomics, and gene editing are radically transforming our understanding of the human body and changing our practice of medicine. But as Jamie Metzl articulates in Hacking Darwin, the implications of the genetics revolution extend far beyond healthcare and into the realm of our very identity as human beings. Metzl lays out the underlying science and thoroughly examines the radical implications and thorny ethical issues raised by these technologies. A genetically altered future will be arriving far sooner and with far greater implications than most people appreciate. Hacking Darwin comes at a critically important time, with many scientific developments arising in the field. It is an essential guide as society navigates these developments and a clarion call for the inclusive global dialogue on the future of human genetic engineering we so desperately need.”
— Victor Dzau M.D., President, United States National Academy of Medicine

“The bio-sciences revolution is coming at us faster than we realize and what better guide to its possibilities than Jamie Metzl. Hacking Darwin is a compelling read ahead of our genetic future, breathtaking on one hand, thought provoking and challenging on the other. A must read and entertaining guide if you care to know what lies ahead and what to do about it.”
— James Manyika, Chairman, McKinsey Global Institute

“Evolution has changed since Darwin’s time. We are driving unnatural selection and nonrandom mutation. This gives us the power to alter all species, including ourselves. So the key emerging debate is: Should we redesign humans? Why? How far? How fast? Metzl lays out what we can do now, what we might be able to do, in an engaging, non-technical way. Let the debate begin.”
— Juan Enriquez, Co-author Evolving Ourselves: Redesigning the Future of Humanity — One Gene at a Time

“Hacking Darwin paints a picture of our future that is both exciting and hopeful as well as dangerous and terrifying. Brilliantly written and deeply thought provoking, it is a must read — for the entire planet. I could not put it down, reading it in a single sitting.”
— Michael Morell, former CIA Acting Director

“Propulsive, fact-packed and engrossing…Metzl has a knack both for clarifying granular scientific and moral complexities, and for seeing the big picture”
— Nature

“Metzl writes with great clarity and a sense of urgency that we should all take to heart.”
—NPR Books

Eternal Sonata: A Thriller of the New Future

In 2025, murder is a small price to pay in the quest for immortality.

It’s hardly news when a renowned octogenarian scientist dying of cancer disappears from a local hospice, but when Kansas City Star reporter Rich Azadian begins to dig, he discovers that other elderly scientists around the world have also vanished recently—all terminally ill and receiving the same experimental treatment from a global health company. His investigation leads him to the reclusive Noam Heller, a brilliant researcher exploring new technologies to reverse-age cancer and other cells. Using revolutionary stem cell treatments and snippets of DNA from rare, immortal Arctic jellyfish, his breakthrough promises the genetic equivalent of the fountain of youth.

But when Heller is murdered and his lab is destroyed, Rich and his girlfriend Antonia become targets themselves. With the local police and federal authorities failing to see the big picture, he realizes he must take matters into his own hands to survive and stop the killing. His only hope is to mobilize his network of brilliant misfits and infiltrate the vast and lethal race—among cutthroat corporations, national intelligence services, rogue scientists, and a mysterious international organization—to control the new technologies and perhaps the secret of life itself.

Publication date: October 4, 2016

Interviews and Reviews

Ivy TV, April 2017

Hadassah Magazine, March 2017

Vail Daily, February 9, 2017, October 26, 2016

BBC, October 6, 2016

NPR Leonard Lopate Show, October 5, 2016

CNN, October 4, 2016

Kirkus, October 1, 2016

Praise for Eternal Sonata

“Eternal Sonata is a brilliant exploration of the many challenges and opportunities our species will face as the exponential growth of real-world technology moves us toward immortality.”
— Ray Kurzweil, Inventor, Futurist, and author of The Singularity Is Near

“Eternal Sonata is a meditation on being human in an age when technology promises to change everything. It will pique your curiosity in science you never thought possible, and make your heart race with the twists and turns of a thriller. A fascinating, joyous read.”
— Debora Spar, President of Barnard College and New York Times bestselling author of Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection

“Jamie Metzl has written a wonderful novel that imagines a future where real world scientific breakthroughs promise massive extension of the human lifetime and the quest for immortality becomes deadly. Filled with brilliant insights on science, philosophy, politics, and human relations, it is a nail-biting thriller with a driving plot that will grip you from the very first page.”
— Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School, and bestselling author of 31 books

“Taut, tense, and relentlessly exciting with a spine-chilling plot spanning the globe … Eternal Sonata establishes Metzl as the first great thriller writer of the genetics age.”
— August Cole, co-author of Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War

“Eternal Sonata is an exhilarating, must-read thriller, set at the combustive intersection of technology and geopolitics. Like all great science fiction, its paints a disturbing future from entirely plausible facts.”
— Fred Kempe, New York Times best-selling author of Berlin 1961 and President, Atlantic Council

Genesis Code: A Thriller of the New Future

Blue Magic, the latest designer drug linked to a rash of overdoses, might explain the needle mark on the arm of a young woman found dead in her Kansas City apartment. But when Star reporter Rich Azadian digs deeper, the clues point to a far more explosive story: MaryLee Stock was a special protégée of evangelical mega-pastor and power broker Cobalt Becker, who is poised to deliver his followers and the presidency to a firebrand right-wing senator in the next election. When Azadian sets out to prove that MaryLee’s death was no accident and she may have been carrying Becker’s genetically enhanced baby, the stakes become life itself.

In 2023 America—bankrupt, violently divided by the culture wars, and beholden to archrival China—the rules of the game are complicated. With the danger mounting, the dead bodies of young women piling up, Chinese agents circling, and the U.S. Department of National Competitiveness moving in to squash his investigation, Azadian’s only option is to go rogue, assemble a team of brilliant misfits like himself, and begin the fight of his life to find out who is killing these women and why, and if any others like them may still be alive.

Publication date: November 4, 2014

Interviews and Reviews

The Pendulum, December 9, 2015

Vail Daily, August 15, 2015

Mongolian Television, June 23, 2015

The Jewish Standard, June 12, 2015

Caixin (China), May 6, 2015

Ivy Magazine, April 9, 1025

Armenian Mirror-Spectator, January 17, 2015

WNYC with Leonard Lopate, December 18, 2014

Serious Wonder, December 18, 2014

Specific Gravity with Jeff Schechtman, December 3, 2014

Huffington Post, December 1, 2014

KQED Forum with Michael Krasny, November 12, 2014

Kirkus, November 11, 2014

Fox News Kansas City, November 10, 2014

Die Welt (Germany), November 9, 2014

Praise for Genesis Code

“A thrill ride through the dangerous intersection where the human genetics revolution and aggressive big power rivalries meet. I couldn’t put it down.”
— Richard Clarke, former White House terrorism czar and New York Times bestselling author of Against All Enemies

“A high-octane thriller touching the core of what it means to be a human being. Read this book and let the national conversation about the future of our species begin.”
— Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent and New York Times bestselling author

“An old-fashioned hard-boiled thriller addresses up-to-the-minute political currents as seen from a short time in the future…Metzl knows his science, and the detail is elegantly done while the novel moves at a nonstop pace over 41 days. Metzl provides a believable look at a not-too-distant future where science, politics, religion, economics and the ability to report the ‘truth’ are all inseparably bound together.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“Metzl (The Depths of the Sea), a former member of the U.S. National Security Council, offers up a tense vision of the near future with this science fiction thriller…Metzl enhances it with a philosophical protagonist, scientific plausibility, and a keen sense of mood.”
— Publishers Weekly

“Metzl…has a strong command of the financial, political and bioethical questions at the heart of his fast-paced dystopian novel.”
— Washington Post

“The plot is stellar and well paced… The science on the DNA enhancement research is fascinating… Fans of sci-fi and mystery will definitely enjoy Genesis Code.”
— Portland Book Review

“Riveting…a real page-turner…a vivid, exciting and well-paced thriller…with a message:…that we must all learn to use wisely the scientific advances that our greatest geniuses uncover.”
— World Policy Journal


The Depths of the Sea

It’s 1979 and Morgan O’Reilly, a dispirited CIA desk officer, is desperately trying to bury his memories. Sent to Cambodia as a Marine and then as a CIA operative during the Vietnam War, he had been given the unlikely task of pulling together a secret spy unit of orphaned street children. At the end of the war, he was only able to get one child out of the country, his surrogate son, Sophal. Years later, Sophal, now a CIA agent, disappears on a secret mission in the Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand.

Tom Dillon, the dashing young superstar of the White House foreign policy staff, asks O’Reilly to find Sophal and bring him home. O’Reilly’s search takes him deeper and deeper into the politics of the Thai-Cambodian border and finally into the deadly Khmer Rouge zone—a place where all foreigners are forbidden from entering and where cruelty and death are omnipresent.

Filled with the fascinating workings of the refugee camps, the life or death politics of Washington, DC, and the inner workings of the personalities that are drawn to such extreme circumstances, The Depths of the Sea is a thriller that both entertains and educates.

Acclaim for The Depths of the Sea (when first published in 2004)

“Set in war-torn Cambodia in the 1970s, this distinctive debut spy novel tells a riveting tale of honor, political deception and moral responsibility. In 1971, CIA officer Morgan O’Reilly, 27, takes on a strange assignment: he’s required to amass a contingent of undercover spies from the resourceful ‘ragged children’ of the Phnom Penh streets. His ragtag group turns out to be surprisingly successful, and they become as much a family as a team. Young, astute orphan Sophal comes closest to O’Reilly’s heart and gratefully teaches him Cambodian slang and various street smarts, but when the Americans abandon the area, O’Reilly must leave his kids behind-all except Sophal, now 18, who is spirited back to the States and enrolled in CIA field school. Eight years later, depressed, desk-bound O’Reilly is dispatched back to Cambodia by hotshot CIA officer Tom Dillon to investigate the sudden disappearance of Sophal, who has since climbed the ranks of the CIA and recently been assigned to the Thai-Cambodian border. As O’Reilly scours the refugee camps unsuccessfully, he encounters several humanitarian aid workers whose stories become bound up with his. When his search lands everyone deep within the treacherous Khmer Rouge border zone, the real reasons O’Reilly has been sent to Cambodia become harrowingly clear. Based on his personal experiences working in Cambodia, Metzl has crafted a thrilling, authentically atmospheric tale. Though the gloomy storm clouds of international politics hover incessantly, this suspenseful, tightly plotted novel makes for a luminous debut.
(Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.)”
— Publishers Weekly

“The political power and poetry of Graham Greene and Charles McCarry pervade this superlative thriller set in the chaos of Vietnam and Cambodia.”
— Chicago Tribune

“Jamie Metzl has written a powerful novel of hope that combines a fresh voice with an intelligent, exciting, and fast-paced story. His characters come alive as they try desperately to stay on course in the muddled, violent landscape of the Thai-Cambodian refugee camps. He has drawn a vivid and compelling portrait of a region and a people struggling to recover from years of war.”
— Joseph R. Biden

“Jamie Metzl is the rare novelist who can draw upon realworld experiences as both an aidworker and a White House official. In The Depths of the Sea, Metzl has given us a gripping and vivid thriller that leads readers on a trail of gun-running, Cold War intrigue, betrayal, and moral ambiguity. Metzl reminds us that the costs of U.S. interventions and retreats are lived one individual at a time.”
— Samantha Power

“In The Depths of the Sea, Jamie Metzl has succeeded in combining an entertaining thriller with a fascinating look at the dark political history of Southeast Asia. He is a writer of astonishing erudition and talent. A tour de force.”
— Richard Holbrooke


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Western Responses to Human Rights Abuses in Cambodia, 1975-80

This study examines Western responses to human rights abuses in Cambodia between 1975 and 1980, years which included the murderous rule of the Khmer Rouge regime, a Vietnamese invasion, a civil war, and a famine. The author looks at the responses of Western populations, concerned academics and intellectuals, international human rights agencies, Western governments, and the United Nations, and how these responses changed over time. The choice made by these states was manifest in Western policies towards the Cambodian refugee crisis and famine and in numerous United Nations fora. The implications of that choice laid the groundwork for the thirteen years of civil war which followed the invasion.