Carroll takes readers on an entertaining tour of biological discovery that emphasizes the dominant role played by chance in shaping the conditions for life on Earth. Along the way, he provides insights and humor that make the book a quick, lively read that both educates and entertains ... Written in a conversational style, the book reads like an updated version of Jacques Monod’s 1970 Chance and Necessity that speaks directly to the reader, making complex subject matter more accessible ... Carroll’s central argument, that we are all here by luck, is certainly clear and compelling. What we choose to do with that luck, however, is where things really get interesting. Books such as this remind us to make our unlikely time here count.
... a lighthearted exploration of the roles that chance and coincidence play in human existence ... Carroll illustrates his concepts through apt, surprising situations that all come down to chance ... Acknowledging that humorists are as likely as scientists to mock notions of determinism, the book culminates in a brief imagined dialogue about chance between six comedians, two writers, and a Nobel Prize-winning biologist. Sarah Silverman tells how she survived a freak bout of epiglottitis, while Kurt Vonnegut recounts multiple lucky shaves during World War II. The voices, recreated from the figures’ writings and interviews, are convincing. The novelty of this playful finale makes up for familiar material on natural selection and DNA ... ranges from examining trivial events to sobering ones, but remains relevant throughout, revealing how chance affects everyday life.