a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


The lab and students at Harvard


My CIA brother-in-law
James Watson Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

[Q] Now, you’ve had a brother-in-law who’s a CIA person.

My sister, yes. He was... when I went around the world in 1961, he was Station Chief in Phnom Penh, and he was opposed to the war. He was against Americans being in any country in which they couldn’t bribe the enemy. So, we’re still in the Philippines and do not ask whether we’re bribing certain people, but, so he was very much a... what was the word? ‘spheres of influence’... his...Hans Morgenthau, the German-born political scientist, sort of, before Henry Kissinger. So, Bob was a student of his, so... and Hans had told Bob that CIA was a much better job than the state department if you want to get anything done, so he was the one that, you know, would just... and my sister, and they had a fight, he just joined the agency and disappeared for four years. So, then, came back and asked her to marry him. But you know, it was four years spent on the offshore islands of, you know, fighting the Chinese communists, but he spoke Chinese. I mean he was a real expert then, you know. You know, he was one of these people, you know, you don’t fight wars that you can’t win. So, he was very bright and my mother thought my sister was marrying a Republican, but he was actually a Democrat. That was a sort of scary moment, but he was very careful not to seemingly reveal his views.

[Q] I won’t ask any more questions.

And my sister never told, you know, her family that she was marrying into the agency. We did know she had to get a security clearance before she could be married, a very wise thing. I mean, you know, in a sense, some people are just born communists.


American molecular biologist James Dewey Watson is probably best known for discovering the structure of DNA for which he was jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins. His long career has seen him teaching at Harvard and Caltech, and taking over the directorship of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. From 1988 to 1992, James Watson was head of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health. His current research focuses on the study of cancer.

Listeners: Walter Gratzer Martin Raff

Walter Gratzer is Emeritus Professor of Biophysical Chemistry at King's College London, and was for most of his research career a member of the scientific staff of the Medical Research Council. He is the author of several books on popular science. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard and has known Jim Watson since that time

Martin Raff is a Canadian-born neurologist and research biologist who has made important contributions to immunology and cell development. He has a special interest in apoptosis, the phenomenon of cell death.



Listen to Martin Raff at Web of Stories



Duration: 2 minutes, 39 seconds

Date story recorded: November 2008 and October 2009

Date story went live: 18 June 2010