A Most Improbable Journey

A Big History of Our Planet and Ourselves

Walter Alvarez (Author)

Overview | Formats

“A thrilling synthesis from a brilliant scientist who discovered one of the most important chapters in our history.” —Sean B. Carroll

Big History, the field that integrates traditional historical scholarship with scientific insights to study the full sweep of our universe, has so far been the domain of historians. Famed geologist Walter Alvarez—best known for the “Impact Theory” explaining dinosaur extinction—has instead championed a science-first approach to Big History. Here he wields his unique expertise to give us a new appreciation for the incredible occurrences—from the Big Bang to the formation of supercontinents, the dawn of the Bronze Age, and beyond—that have led to our improbable place in the universe.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • November 2016
  • ISBN 978-0-393-29269-5
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 256 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverA Most Improbable Journey: A Big History of Our Planet and Ourselves


Endorsements & Reviews

“[Alvarez] revels in the unlikely reality of life on Earth . . . enabling readers to experience the power of Big History.” — Science

“Fans of Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything will appreciate Alvarez’s enthusiastic, clearly written tour of contingencies that have shaped our world, starting with the origins of life on Earth.” — Science News

“Imagine a campfire chat with your favorite teacher sharing the biggest story you ever heard. A Most Improbable Journey is a thrilling synthesis from a brilliant scientist who discovered one of the most important chapters in our history. An instant classic.” — Sean B. Carroll, author of Endless Forms Most Beautiful

“For the past three decades, Walter Alvarez has been at the center of a revolution in how scientists think about the history of life and the Earth. In A Most Improbable Journey he gives us the biggest history of all, going from the Big Bang to our own place on the planet. Lively and profound and flavored with his infectious enthusiasm, Alvarez shows how each of us has won a truly massive lottery just to be a sentient being on this planet.” — Neil Shubin, best-selling author of Your Inner Fish

“A wonderful account of Big History by a geologist. And not just any geologist, but the geologist who showed that the dinosaurs were done in by an unlucky asteroid strike! Alvarez writes with precision and great charm. And he reminds us how absurdly improbable is the role we play in this colossal story, and how many things had to go right for you and me to exist.” — David Christian, founder of the field of Big History and author of Maps of Time

“Engaging.” — Nature

Also by Walter Alvarez All

  1. Book CoverThe Mountains of Saint Francis: Discovering the Geologic Events That Shaped Our Earth