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Preface/Front Matter

R.A. Weinberg


Like individual careers, scientific fields have their days of wine and roses. These periods may last for a few short years or for a generation. Before these periods of intense productivity, little is known or understood in the field; by the end of the periods, a large corpus of information becomes conceptualized, principles are codified, and all becomes engraved in stone. Once the big problems are worked out, the adventurous souls flee for greener pastures, leaving behind a core of diehards to flesh out the details.

These dynamics create a problem for those intent on producing a book like the present one, a book that purports to describe a field of research. Timing is crucial. Written too early, such a book becomes a compendium of wild speculations and pooled ignorance. Appearing too late, the volume acquires archival value, a grim phrase that connotes dusty shelves in little-used reference libraries. Then there is the other problem for those assembling a book like this one: For whom should it be written?

These issues led to some clear decisions concerning the timing and tone of this particular book. The field of oncogene research is a decade old. Many basic concepts are now well established, yet the field gives signs of flourishing for a long time to come, and solutions to many of its big problems still lie ahead of us. In the life of this field, 1989 would seem to represent a midpoint. The field still has the vitality and intrinsic interest to

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