Book Soup & Harvard Business Review Press Present Cass Sunstein discussing How to Become Famous: Lost Einsteins, Forgotten Superstars, and How the Beatles Came to Be

Cass Sunstein

Consider the most famous music group in history. What would the world be like if the Beatles never existed? This was the question posed by the playful, thought-provoking, 2019 film Yesterday, in which a young, completely unknown singer starts performing Beatles hits to a world that has never heard them. Would the Fab Four's songs be as phenomenally popular as they are in our own Beatle-infused world? The movie asserts that they would, but is that true? Was the success of the Beatles inevitable due to their amazing, matchless talent?

Maybe. It's hard to imagine our world without its stars, icons, and celebrities. They are part of our culture and history, seeming permanent and preordained. But as Harvard law professor (and passionate Beatles fan) Cass Sunstein shows in this startling book, that is far from the case. Focusing on both famous and forgotten (or simply overlooked) artists and luminaries in music, literature, business, science, politics, and other fields, he explores why some individuals become famous and others don't and offers a new understanding of the roles played by greatness, luck, and contingency in the achievement of fame.

Sunstein examines recent research on informational cascades, network effects, and group polarization to probe the question of how people become famous. He explores what ends up in the history books and in the literary canon and how that changes radically over time. He delves into the rich and entertaining stories of a diverse cast of famous characters, from John Keats, William Blake, and Jane Austen to Bob Dylan, Ayn Rand, and Stan Lee--as well as John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

How to Become Famous takes you on a fun, captivating, and at times profound journey that will forever change your perspective on the latest celebrity's "fifteen minutes of fame" and on what vaults some to the top--and leaves others in the dust. (Harvard Business Review Press)

SONYA WALGER most recently starred in Apple's sci-fi series FOR ALL MANKIND and the horror/thriller film NEW LIFE written and directed by John Rosman. She also can be seen in Amazon's NIGHT SKY opposite Sissy Spacek and J.K. Simmons, and Epix's GET SHORTY with Chris O'Dowd and Ray Romano. Sonya is known for her role as "Penny" on ABC's hit series LOST as well as other series including FLASHFORWARD, THE CATCH, TELL ME YOU LOVE ME, and MIND OF A MARRIED MAN. Sonya also hosts the literary podcast BOOKISH. Her novel LION will be published by New York Review of Books in February 2025. 

Event date: 
Thursday, May 30, 2024 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Book Soup
8818 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Event Type: 
How to Become Famous: Lost Einsteins, Forgotten Superstars, and How the Beatles Came to Be By Cass R. Sunstein Cover Image
ISBN: 9781647825362
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harvard Business Review Press - May 21st, 2024