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In this book, Belgian biochemist de Duve comes across as an exceptionally genial, humanistic scientist. Awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in medicine for his groundbreaking work in cell biology, de Duve here surveys the scientific approach to understanding how life began, crucial bottlenecks in its increasing complexity, and the question of the contingency versus the inevitability of the entire process. Born in 1917, de Duve regards this presentation as his testament, which perhaps motivates his addressing, periodically in the text, overtly in the final chapter, religious beliefs about the existence of life. Unlike aggressive scientific atheists such as Richard Dawkins, nonatheist de Duve sympathetically reasons through why it is unnecessary to invoke nonphysical influences. On the other hand, he argues against assertions that life and its evolved forms are dumb, naturally selected flukes. Beneath the philosophizing, de Duve delineates biology excellently and authoritatively, introducing it with wonder and curiosity that are bound to excite the next generation. A worthy legacy of a great career.