A series of fortunate events
Sean B Carroll
*Longlisted for the PEN America Literary Awards 2021: PEN/E.O Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
*Waterstone’s Best Books of 2020: Popular Science
*American Scientist’s 2020 Science Book Gift Guide
Why is the world the way it is? How did we get here? Does everything happen for a reason or are some things left to chance?
Philosophers and theologians have pondered these questions for millennia, but startling scientific discoveries over the past half century are revealing that we live in a world driven by chance.
A Series of Fortunate Events tells the story of the awesome power of chance and how it is the surprising source of all the beauty and diversity in the living world. Like every other species, we humans are here by accident. But it is shocking just how many things-any of which might never have occurred-had to happen in certain ways for any of us to exist. From an extremely improbable asteroid impact, to the wild gyrations of the Ice Age, to invisible accidents in our parents’ gonads, we are all here through an astonishing series of fortunate events. And chance continues to reign every day over the razor-thin line between our life and death. This is a relatively small book about a really big idea. It is also a spirited tale.
Drawing inspiration from Monty Python, Kurt Vonnegut, and other great thinkers, and crafted by one of today’s most accomplished science storytellers, A Series of Fortunate Events is an irresistibly entertaining and thought-provoking account of one of the most important but least appreciated facts of life.
‘Fascinating and exhilarating — Sean B. Carroll at his very best.’ — Bill Bryson, author of The Body: A Guide for Occupants
‘Golf games, coincidental immunity, and pandemics: A Series of Fortunate Events ranges from examining trivial events to sobering ones, but remains relevant throughout, revealing how chance affects everyday life.’ — Rebecca Foster, Foreword Reviews
‘Carroll’s work renders hefty topics accessible, exploring the perfect storm of events responsible for evolution, the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs and every living person’s conception.’ — Smithsonian Mag
A Series of Fortunate Events: Chance and the Making of the Planet, Life, and You, Sean B. Carroll from Princeton University Press on Vimeo.