Jason Roberts Discusses His New Book "Every Living Thing"


Join us on Saturday, May 25th at 7:00 PM when local author JASON ROBERTS comes to Mrs. Dalloway's to discuss his latest book Every Living Thing: The Great and Deadly Race to Know All Life. Jason will sign copies of his book after the presentation. (Jason' photo by Christopher Michel)


This is a free event, but you must pre-register on Eventbrite or in the store to ensure seating. Click Here to preorder a copy of Every Living Thing.


In the eighteenth century, two men dedicated their lives to the same daunting task: identifying and describing all life on Earth. Their approaches, however, could not have been more different. Carl Linnaeus, a pious Swedish doctor with a huckster’s flair, believed that life belonged in tidy, static categories. Georges-Louis de Buffon, an aristocratic polymath and keeper of France’s royal garden, viewed life as a dynamic swirl of complexities. Both began believing their task to be difficult, but not impossible. How could the planet possibly hold more than a few thousand species—or as many could fit on Noah’s Ark? Stunned by life’s diversity, both fell far short of their goal. But in the process, they articulated starkly divergent views on nature and on humanity itself.

The rivalry between these two unique, driven individuals created reverberations that still echo today. Linnaeus, with the help of acolytes he called “apostles,” gave the world such concepts as mammal, primate, and homo sapiens—but he also denied species change and promulgated racist pseudo-science. Buffon coined the term reproduction, formulated early prototypes of evolution and genetics, and argued passionately against prejudice. It was a clash that, during their lifetimes, Buffon seemed to be winning. But their posthumous fates would take a very different turn, and shape our scientific understanding of the world today.

With elegant, propulsive prose grounded in more than a decade of obsessive research, featuring appearances by Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, and Charles Darwin, bestselling author Jason Roberts tells an unforgettable true-life tale of intertwined lives and enduring legacies, tracing an arc of insight and discovery that extends across three centuries into the present day.

JASON ROBERTS is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. His previous book, A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler, was a national bestseller and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A contributor to McSweeney’s, The Believer, and other publications, he lives in Northern California.

THIS EVENT is free but pre-registration is requested. Registration ends at 5:30 pm on May 25th.

BECAUSE SEATING is limited, please register only if you plan to attend.

DUE TO SPACE limitations, we may not be able to accommodate every person at an event, so early registration is encouraged.

WALK-INS will be accommodated only if space allows.

WE ASK that attendees arrive between 6:45 and 7:00 PM for the event.

PLEASE leave your non-support companion animals at home.

OUR shared restrooms are not accessible after 6:30 PM, please plan accordingly.


Saturday, May 25, 2024 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Event address: 
Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore
2904 College Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705
Every Living Thing: The Great and Deadly Race to Know All Life By Jason Roberts Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984855206
Availability: Most titles are on our shelves or available within 1-5 days.
Published: Random House - April 9th, 2024