The book takes you through the development of the universe and the birth of all modern sciences. The author makes a great effort to let the information flow in a logical and enjoyable format. The audio book also does a great job at providing examples of very large and very small numbers used so that they can be better grasped by the listener. The book has no agenda but you can't help but pause towards the end and realize how insignificant the human race is in the grand scheme of things and also realize how much more impact we have had on the world than all other species before us.
The author makes it clear at the beginning that he meant this book to be an easy-to-read introduction to our planet's history, meant for non-scientist readers, and I feel he succeeded quite well at this.
He explains our current understanding of the origins of our universe, our planet, and humanity. He also covers some of the previously-held ideas that have since been disproven, sometimes quite recently. Amusingly, he describes our current understandings as though they are the final truth, even though obviously we discover new things all the time, as demonstrated by his own text! For example tectonic plate theory was only just recently accepted by the scientific establishment, and we have discovered new things about black holes and other cosmic concepts in the nine years since the book was published.
All in all though he provides a very thorough and thoughtful overview of what we know and how we got to know it, and he encourages a scientific curiosity and wonder which will help people appreciate the ongoing process of learning about the world around us.
The narrator also does a very good job, keeping his tone humorous and engaging even while some of the text might seem too "dry" for some readers.
It is an amusing fact fat tome of literally everything. The title is not misleading. It perfectly treads the high-wire of Science Fact, Humor, Science History, Humor, and Minutia, Humor. I have purchased this marvel in Hardback, Paperback twice, and audio book. I have also given it away to friends who have never heard of it, but now are passing it around also. Simply put, one of the best books ever written. Seriously. There is no possible way to absorb so much information in an amusing, comfortable manner, and the upside of that is you get to listen to it again.
Stupid questions for this type of book. Let me say here that Richard Matthews' British accent is the perfect voice for this book. That dry sense of humor is executed perfectly.
Everyone should be required to read this. It shows how the people who helped transform our understanding of the world we live in and how most of them were forgotten. Also, the giants in Science and the questions you've always wondered about, like, How did they determine the size of the earth during the time of the Enlightenment? It was a herculean effort by people you have never heard of plus many individuals who devoted most of their lives to solving this question and failing. Failing in science is not always a bad thing and it is important to hear all of these amazing, heart stopping, tragic, hilarious stories. Get. This. Book.
I love the way Bill Bryson makes the science we learned in high school accessible and interesting. His humor is refreshing.
I don't like the choice of readers for this book. Richard Matthews had a somewhat stuffy air when reading the book, and some of the humor seemed to slip right past him.
I would recommend this book to a select group of friends but not to casual readers.
Yes, probably because the length of scientific discussions.
No, it is already covering the subject in great detail
Accurate, engaging, enlightening.
Favorite character: All of us, the bearers of the magic gift of consciousness. Bill Bryson's insightful ability to weave together a picture of our natural history is unsurpassed. This book was chock-a-block with interestingly connected facts and analogies that explain who we are and how we got here. I gave it three listens and will hit it again in a few months. Throughout the entire series, I didn't encounter a single dry spot or boring passage. He also was able to vivify all of the historical characters whose shoulders we now stand upon in our emerging understanding of the complex reality of our existence. It is a spellbinding book.
Richard Matthews is the most pleasing narrator I've ever listened to- never monotonous or quirky and thoroughly British enough to please the American ear.
The Story of Us.
Give this one a try if you're even remotely interested in understanding the natural world and its perceived meaning. Get ready for a happy existential crisis after you've finished it.
I loved the story and had it on CD, I purchased the Audible copy to listen to it again. There are a lot of worthwhile stories, facts and anecdotes worth remembering and listening to.
Bill Bryson Narration was great in the CD as it was ironic and playful full of wonder. This Narrator, imagines he is doing Shakespeare in the park or Masterpiece theater and comes off boring and dry.
It would be great but simply too much time to do in one sitting-without getting a blood clot in your legs.
Born to be a writer. Raised to forget about it. Follow me on twitter @ArdaWhateverian
This was the first science book I actually read for fun, and it was not only fun and entertaining, but also deeply inspirational and mind-blowing.
I had this as an actual book that I equally loved but for some reason could not finish. I then decided to try to the audible-book and that was one of the best decisions of 2012. This is potentially better to be listened to than read.
The narration keeps your attention
The description of how we are always 3 minutes from the end of the earth was done well
The title sums it up quite well
All of his analogies and metaphors, I can't believe it only took Bill Bryson three years to make the book.