I've enjoyed a number of Bill Bryson books and found this book generally entertaining. It's the kind of book I usually relish with lots of interesting facts and figures. I thought the first third of the book about cosmology worthy of 5 stars, but I got a bit glassy-eyed with the stream of facts and figures in the middle of the book dealing with taxonomy, which even I found less than riveting. Most of the physics and chemistry was familiar to me, but not the biographical stories about the scientists who made the discoveries with their revealing and all too human foibles. Surprisingly, I found the parts dealing with my field of expertise, biochemistry and molecular biology, some of the least inspiring and sketchy such that I think many wouldn't get just how exciting it can be. The last third or so of the book about the evolution of humans was again worthy of 5 stars.
There are some gaps in what he included, for example, mathematics, the basis of so much in science, was barely touched on and one would get the impression that only scientists in the West made all the discoveries, whereas we now know that many were already made in China and India, to name but two Eastern Civilizations.
I've see other reviews that have been critical and pointed out errors in the narrative. I detected a few, but generally thought, that for a layman, Bryson did a very good job of covering an enormous sweep of science and making it entertaining.
"AMAZING - What else can one say"
A book that has to be put forward for the Booker prize of the year.
I can only agree with all the critics that say this book should be put onto School and University curriculam's - A riveting read
"Can't stand the narrator"
I love Bill Bryson, but cannot abide William Robert's jaunty, sing-song delivery.
I listened to two or three minutes and switched it off, never to listen again.
I have a large number of Bill Bryson audiobooks and return to them again and again; Home, America, A walk in the Woods, The Thunderbolt Kid, but all read, exactly as they should be, by Bill Bryson himself.
For me, William Robert's readings have nothing to redeem them. I so want to listen to this book, but read by Mr. B.
"Very interesting. Worth reading. Good Bryson"
This is another good Bryson. This book does what is says on the tin and you get a short history of nearly everything. Some parts are more interesting than others but Bryson does his best with some difficult topics. It's overall a great read and well narrated.
The audible book was very interesting but a lot of information in actually quite a small period of time even though the book is 20 hours long. Multiple listens are required really to get a better understanding of all the material. I quite enjoyed listening to the narrator as his voice inflection made it more interesting.
"A Fantastic Book Ruined"
A Short History of Nearly Everything was a standout publication, a once in generation masterpiece which everybody should hold a copy of.
Many years ago, I had the audiobook, I listened to it over and over, read by a excellent narrator.
Sadly this version is appalling, the closest it achieves to scientific greatness is a listening experience akin to Stephen Hawkins voice simulator.
William Roberts may be well equipped for children's tales, television voiceovers or impressions of a village idiot, but adding the required weight to volume of this quality he is left exposed and out of his depth.
Sadly the waste of a credit and now I am left to find original copy I so enjoyed.
"What a pleasure!"
Bill Bryson does a marvellous job packing all that information into his book and making it so immensely readable for people like me who tend to shun anything to do with physics and natural science. And the narrator is simply wonderful: 19 hours and not once does one tire of his voice, he manages to make one want to keep listening with his lively yet never forced way of narrating.
Liselotte Horneman Kragh, Silkeborg, Denmark
"Not really easy listening ..."
To be fair, I usually listen to fiction, but have read and enjoyed a number of Bryson's travelogue-type books. However, I found this audiobook hard going - I had to be in the right state of mind to listen, with nothing else going on around me and not in the least bit tired. The moment your mind wanders, you have missed something and the next 10 minutes may well become meaningless.
I also couldn't get our of my head, a basic objection to what Bryson was doing. He starts by telling us that he hates the fact that scientists tell us things without explaining how they know it to be true ... and then spends the rest of the book spewing out a fantastic array of 'facts' which we are just expected to believe. I'm sorry, but I just didn't buy it!
"Dizzying amount of facts to take in in one go"
Everything you want to know about everything, well researched beautifully written and very well read too.
I really enjoyed this and will be listening to it again.
"Interesting and educational"
Enjoyed this audiobook. This is not an easy listen as there are a lot of facts to absorb. I liked science at school so the subject matter was close to my heart, it was good to revisit and also learn some new things after so many years. Will listen to it again.