Jason Roberts with Elizabeth Stix - Every Living Thing (Corte Madera Store)

Jason Roberts
In conversation with Elizabeth Stix

Every Living Thing
The Great and Deadly Race to Know All Life

Corte Madera Store
Sat., April 13th, 2024 • 4:00pm PT

This event is free to attend and will be hosted in-person at Book Passage's Corte Madera Store. Please contact events@bookpassage.com with questions regarding events.

An epic, extraordinary account of scientific rivalry and obsession in the quest to survey all of life on Earth—a competition whose consequences still reverberate today—from the bestselling author of A Sense of the World

“[A] vibrant scientific saga . . . at once important, outrageous, enlightening, entertaining, enduring, and still evolving.”—Dava Sobel, author of Longitude

In the eighteenth century, two men—exact contemporaries and polar opposites—dedicated their lives to the same daunting task: identifying and describing all life on Earth. 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. Each began his task believing it 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?

Both fell far short of their goal, but in the process they articulated starkly divergent views on nature, the future of the Earth, and humanity itself. Linnaeus gave the world such concepts as mammal, primate, and Homo sapiens, but he also denied that species change and he promulgated racist pseudoscience. Buffon formulated early prototypes of evolution and genetics, warned of global climate change, and argued passionately against prejudice. The clash of their conflicting worldviews continued well after their deaths, as their successors contended for dominance in the emerging science that came to be called biology.

In Every Living Thing, Jason Roberts weaves a sweeping, unforgettable narrative spell, exploring the intertwined lives and legacies of Linnaeus and Buffon—as well as the groundbreaking, often fatal adventures of their acolytes—to trace 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.


Bay Area native Elizabeth Stix is the author of Things I Want Back From You, forthcoming in June from Black Lawrence Press. Her stories have appeared in McSweeney's, Tin House, Boulevard, The Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine, and performed live at Selected Shorts in New York and the New Short Fiction Series in LA.  http://www.elizabethstix.com








“As Jason Roberts reveals in this vibrant scientific saga, taxonomists take up their mission with a mix of insight and foresight, colored by their moment in history, not to mention their foibles, their vanity, and their all-too-human prejudices. . . . A story at once important, outrageous, enlightening, entertaining, enduring, and still evolving.”—Dava Sobel, author of Longitude

“An epic account of an impossible scientific undertaking and a rare blend of deep research, page-turning storytelling, and the beauty of the natural world. . . . Every Living Thing brings history to vivid life and animates an essential story with an ever-present sense of wonder.”—Charles Duhigg, author of Supercommunicators and The Power of Habit



Jason Roberts photo credit Christopher Michel. Elizabeth Stix photo courtesy of the publisher.



Book Passage Corte Madera
51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925
Every Living Thing: The Great and Deadly Race to Know All Life By Jason Roberts Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984855206
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - Click Title for More Details
Published: Random House - April 9th, 2024

Pre-Order Now Badge
Things I Want Back from You By Elizabeth Stix Cover Image
ISBN: 9781625570741
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Black Lawrence Press - May 14th, 2024