Book review: The Butterfly Effect

Andy Andrews speaks to groups over 100 times a year, and his skill at story telling is one of the main reasons he’s so popular with audiences. One of those stories, The Butterfly Effect, is his most requested, and has now been turned into a book.

Just 109 pages long, The Butterfly Effect is a slim book, but communicates a weighty message. The speaker and New York Times best-selling author uses real-life examples to communicate an important principle: the decisions you make and the way you treat others have more impact than you may ever realize.

The book’s title is taken from a scientific hypothesis presented in 1963. It suggested that a butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air — eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet.

Now I’m no scientist, but the whole idea seems pretty fanciful to me. If butterfly wings cause hurricanes, the force of my tire blowing out recently should have caused the planet to be wrenched out of its orbit around the Sun. In the same way, some of Andrew’s accounts seem a bit Bunyanesque.

For example, Colonel Vincent Chamberlain, spared a mortal wound when a bullet bounced off his belt buckle during the Battle of Gettysburg, heroically held off rebel soldiers against insurmountable odds (Are there any other kind of odds in war stories?). If he didn’t, the North would have lost the war, the United States would have dissolved, and North America would have turned into a politically fragmented continent like Europe.

In spite of the fact that a number of Andrew’s biographical stories seem like hyperbole, The Butterfly Effect does convey the important message that your life can impact others in ways that are not always immediately evident. I’m reminded of Mordecai’s encouragement to Esther during a time of peril for the nation of Israel:

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
(Esther 4:14 ESV)

The Butterfly Effect does provide some serious inspiration. But I’ll hold off on giving it a round of applause. I might cause a typhoon on the other side of the globe.

A complimentary copy of the reviewed book was provided by the publisher.


6 Responses to Book review: The Butterfly Effect

  1. […] Faces Of Lions Just another weblog « Book review: The Butterfly Effect […]

  2. Hey Dave,

    Is that story about Chamberlain true? I think I need a bigger belt buckle.

    I was miraculously spared the other day when an acorn narrowly missed my head and struck the chair I was sitting in. I think that’s in Chamberlain’s league, right?

    In heaven we’ll probably all be astounded at how the Lord caused our seemingly insignificant lives to affect many

  3. Chris says:

    Hi David,

    I’ve left a few posts on Imonk and followed you here from there.

    This post interests me because I call my blog “The Wings of the Wind” and use a butterfly as a symbol. I’ve never shared why on my blog, but it wasn’t because of this author or his book.

    Because I do use the butterfly as a symbol, I’ve got to paste this review to my blog.

    Like what I’ve seen of your blog.

    God’s blessings,

    • David Wilson says:

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for stopping by the blog. The butterfly is certainly tied to a lot of interesting and positive associations. I can see why you would appreciate its symbolism. I look forward to interacting with you in the days to come.

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