Virtual Event: Steven Johnson


Extra Life:
A Short History of Living Longer

in conversation with TIM HARFORD


May 17, 2021
5:00 PM ET


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$33.25 (book & signed bookplate included - On Sale Now $5 suggested - pay what you can - On Sale Now

Harvard Book Store, Politics and Prose, and Books & Books welcome STEVEN JOHNSON—author of the bestselling Where Good Ideas Come From and host of the Emmy-winning PBS/BBC series How We Got to Now—for a discussion of his latest book, Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer. He will be joined in conversation by TIM HARFORD, "The Undercover Economist" and author of The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics.


There are three ticket options available for this event.

Admission Ticket - $33.25: Includes one admission link and one copy of Extra Life. US shipping also included. (Please note: we are unable to ship internationally.)

Pay-What-You-Can Ticket: Includes one admission link. We suggest a $5 donation to support Harvard Book Store's staff and our virtual event series during these difficult times. Thank you for your support!

Free RSVP: Includes one admission link. These tickets are limited in quantity.


About Extra Life

As a species we have doubled our life expectancy in just one hundred years. All the advances of modern life—the medical breakthroughs, the public health institutions, the rising standards of living—have given us each about twenty thousand extra days on average. There are few measures of human progress more astonishing than our increased longevity.

This book is Steven Johnson’s attempt to understand where that progress came from. How many of those extra twenty thousand days came from vaccines, or the decrease in famines, or seatbelts? What are the forces that now keep us alive longer? Behind each breakthrough lies an inspiring story of cooperative innovation, of brilliant thinkers bolstered by strong systems of public support and collaborative networks.

But it is not enough simply to remind ourselves that progress is possible. How do we avoid decreases in life expectancy as our public health systems face unprecedented challenges? What current technologies or interventions that could reduce the impact of future crises are we somehow ignoring?

A study in how meaningful change happens in society, Extra Life is an ode to the enduring power of common goals and public resources. The most fundamental progress we have experienced over the past few centuries has not come from big corporations or start-ups. It has come, instead, from activists struggling for reform; from university-based and publicly funded scientists sharing their findings open-source-style; and from nonprofit agencies spreading new innovations around the world.

Praise for Steven Johnson

“Mr. Johnson's erudition can be quite gobsmacking.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Riveting . . . A deep thinker and gifted storyteller.” —The New York Times Book Review

“A maven of the history of ideas.” —The Guardian

Steven Johnson
Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson is the bestselling author of thirteen books, including Where Good Ideas Come From, Farsighted, and The Ghost Map. He's the host and cocreator of the Emmy-winning PBS/BBC series How We Got to Now, and the host of the podcast American Innovations. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and Marin County, California, with his wife and three sons.

Tim Harford
Tim Harford

Tim Harford

Tim Harford is an award-winning columnist, broadcaster, and economist. He is the author of Messy, Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy, and the million-selling The Undercover Economist and is the host of the Cautionary Tales podcast. He is an honorary fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and in 2019 was awarded an OBE for services to improving economic understanding.

Photo Credit: Fran Monks


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Harvard Book Store’s award-winning event series continues online! Named "Best of Boston: 2020 Best Virtual Author Series" and "2021 Best Virtual Author Series" by Boston magazine.

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