Fluke by Brian Klaas [7/10]

Political commentator and author Brian Klaas has put out one of the genuinely intriguing titles of 2024, Fluke: Chance, Chaos, and Why Everything We Do Matters. The title itself attracts. With little expectation of what to uncover, I was drawn in by the author’s spirited, smooth, well-orchestrated exploration of the role of chance (versus predestiny or fate or “force of history” or whatever term you might use to describe how we normally see the world as logical and subject to analysis). Essentially the author sees the world as a magical canvas sprinkled with “flukes,” startling coincidences or fragments of fortune (forgive me if I pay his thesis short, I simply relay what I got from my intrigued read). Klaas reminds me of Simon Winchester, with a similar penchant for, and tendency towards, story and story after story, so that occasionally the thrust of the logic can feel swamped by yet another amazing tale, but he always comes out the other end with a wrap-up. The final push towards his conclusion is muddied by a detour into the issue of free will versus determinism, something that is fascinating but worthy of a more nuanced exploration, but his climax, in which he suggests the somewhat capricious universe he describes is a sparkling one, seemed a fitting end. Fluke is a bucking journey of strange stories and concepts that not only entertains, it titillates the mind.

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