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Book and Media Reviews
April 25, 2007

Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Modern Medical Breakthroughs

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Fishbein Fellow.

JAMA. 2007;297(16):1827-1833. doi:10.1001/jama.297.16.1832

Last year, I was asked to write a chapter on innovation for an encyclopedia of medicinal chemistry. I wish Morton Meyers' book Happy Accidents had appeared then, for it would have made my job infinitely easier and much more pleasant. For while we all know that a few medical breakthroughs have occurred by serendipity, by mistakes, and by loners who fought domineering dogmas, Meyers' book stuns the reader with the sheer number and importance of such discoveries. At the same time, Meyers writes so beautifully and compellingly that one is afraid that he has missed the deeper meanings that his stories convey. Be assured, he has not. You will learn so much and have so much fun reading this book that you will be telling your students, colleagues, and friends stories from it, and drawing on its lessons, for years to come.

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