Chance in the House of Fate: A Natural History of Heredity

Chance in the House of Fate: A Natural History of Heredity

ISBN-10: 0618082875
2001, Houghton Mifflin (hardcover)

A natural history of humanity as seen through the lens of our genes and cells, Chance in the House of Fate explores the ways in which, at the most fundamental level, humans are genetically linked to every part of the natural world. The book offers a personal tour through the surprising turns of heredity, informed by the ways genetic inheritance has affected Ackerman’s own life. From a younger sister’s profound retardation and her mother’s cancer to the births of her own healthy daughters, Ackerman reveals her own experiences as telling touchpoints, ultimately illuminating the hidden biological connections among all forms of life.


— The New York Times

“A poetic view of heredity… a grand literary experiment.”

— Science

“A beautiful story of the natural world that will inspire and educate.”

— San Francisco Chronicle

Selected as a Library Journal Best Book of the Year, 2001

Finalist for the 5th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Award in Nonfiction, 2002

The Mariner edition was named a New York Times “New 
and Noteworthy” paperback.

Select Reviews:

“An exploration filled with passionate wonder.”

— San Francisco Chronicle

“An amazing look at how we got where we are . . . An ambitious book . . . a beautiful book.”

— Chicago Tribune

“Tying together the famous and the forgotten, the microscopic and the vast, Chance in the House of Fate is a fascinating book.”

— New York Times Book Review


Talk on “Understanding Heredity and Chance in the House of Fate” at the University of Virginia