I'm an American and unfamiliar with Mr. Bryson's works. He is a gem! I loved the book. The sound of Mr. Matthews' narration sounds like John Cleese to me. Kept waiting to hear the "little machine" going "b-r-in-ggggg", and smiled all the time I was listening!
My budget only allows one book every three months, so I give each purchase a lot of thought....but I've loved all of Bill Bryson's travel books, and assumed (yeah, I know how that word breaks out) that I bought it without doing any research. Big mistake. Not a giggle in the entire painful 17 hours, 48 minutes. I swear that listening to a reading of New York phone book would be just as entertaining. If you like to listen to lots of big scientific terms and recitation of big, BIG numbers, this book is for you. If you're looking for Bill Bryson's delightful and humorous observations on life, run away....quickly.
A great way to spend some time thinking about science. A bit sensational about epochal events but otherwise worth your time.
An absolutely wonderful trip through the history of (unbelievably) nearly everything. If you have even the remotest bit of curiosity about anything from the formation of the universe, to geology, to our understanding of mathematics and physics -- and especially, the men and women in history that formed the foundation of what we now claim to know about our universe -- this book is for you. Bryson hops elegantly from one subject to the next, pausing to not only educate, but also to amuse the reader. Subjects that I would normally have pegged as uninteresting, Bryson manages to make amusing, and often, extremely illuminating.
If you feel like a history of science book would be boring, think again. While not a page turner in the sense of Harry Potter or Dan Brown novels, you will never be bored when listening to this book. Bill Bryson does a phenomenal job of explaining what we know about the earth, the universe, life, and us and how we came to know this stuff, all the while inserting revelent anecdotes that are quite funny or amazingly interesting. It also helps that the narrator reminds me of the narrator in the movie Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I could not think of a more appropriate voice to make this audiobook
No prior knowledge of anything is required as Bill Bryson takes his time explaining everything, all the while not diving into too much detail. This book is perfect for those who failed science in high school and for those who are currently on the leading edge of scientific discovery. I was also quite surprised as to how much humor was in this book. You are bound to laugh, or at least crack a smile every so often.
Now I must warn that this is a history of science book, and while imensely entertaining, it does have some resemblence to reading for a college class, albeit a very interesting one. Thus there are some points where I had to stop listening just so I could do something mindless. Regardless, i would recommend this book to everyone. It gives the best overall description of what the human race has discovered and I think everyone should be somewhat familar with the knowledge within this book.
... But not shallow. If you could remember the whole book, you'd have material for many, many dinner party conversations to come! But seriously; fascinating and. absorbing. From the wide view of the development of the universe and how it works to recent individual experiments in cosmology, geology, biology, chemistry and more. It really is a short history of nearly everything scientific.
Fair disclosure time. I have eclectic tastes. I tend to gravitate towards obscure knowledge and micro-histories as a general rule with a little time left over for some english humor. With that said, this book hit me squarely between the eyes and I've not stopped smiling about it.
Bryson manages to drill down very complex topics into bite sized pieces that can be absorbed by both the casual listener and also by someone with some experience in the topic area. I know that because he criss crossed several times into areas I'm familiar with and back again. I never felt lost or out of my depth because Bill was there to hold my hand through this journey that starts with creation and moves its way through to today.
That's a lot of ground to cover and you are moving so fast you don't have time to get bored.
If you are the type to look in the reference section at the bookstore occasionally for an interesting read or you just like to have a generally rounded set of thoughts dueling inside your head, this is the best book I can suggest.
I honestly had difficulty turning it off when it was time and was very sad to see it end. Can there be higher praise than that?
I love his quirkiness. He takes such delight in finding some weird fact interesting anecdote and I think he loves telling people about it. This had been in my library for a long long time. I think I need to pull it out again and read it. So amazing. I loved all of his other books as well. Makes me what to be a writer.
don't be suprised at the thoroughness, if it drags, it's because it's thorough, but AWESOME. It's chock full of more science (and interesting science) than anything you learned in high school.