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"David Starr Jordan was a taxonomist, a man possessed with bringing order to the natural world. But chaos seemed out to get him. His fish collections were demolished by lightning, by fire, and eventually by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake-which sent more than a thousand of his discoveries, housed in fragile glass jars, plummeting to the floor. In an instant, his life's work was shattered. But instead of giving it to despair, Jordan introduced one clever innovation that he believed would at last protect his work against the chaos of the world. When NPR reporter Lulu Miller first heard this anecdote in passing, she took Jordan for a fool-a cautionary tale in hubris, or denial. But as her own life slowly unraveled, she began to wonder about him. Perhaps instead he was a model for how to go on when all seemed lost. What she would unearth about his life would transform her understanding of nature, history, morality, and love."--Back cover.