In a succinct synthesis, “What Is Life?: Understand Biology In Five Steps,” barely over a hundred pages long, Nobel Prize winner Paul Nurse expounds what a lifetime of work has taught him about his field. A lyrical, yet cogent ode to arguably the most important science of all, the book eschews textbook details and aims to instruct at the highest conceptual level. Five massive concepts underpin biology, according to Nurse, and what astonished me is that the final one, the most recent to be perceived by leading biologists, was unknown to me yet arrived as instantly intuitively correct. Nurse peppers his overview with modestly framed anecdotes from his storied career. Final rejoinders round up the journey of What Is Life, and here he finds room to mention our current pandemic.