I was disappointed by this volume of Bryson's. I'm used to having him wander far afield, here and there going off on tangents and telling enlightening tales that become the focus of the book more than the stated topic. This book pretty much stayed with the topic of cosmology (origins of the universe, elements, life, etc...) and the interesting side-stories were minimal. Cosmology's not a bad topic and he certainly has some fun with it.
...but for nearly 18 hours??? ...Really?
I got tired of listening to all the different things he had to say about the beginning of the cosmos after a few hours and clicked ahead. It was more discussions of the specifics of another aspect of universe formation. Clicked ahead again; more of the same. And again...
My concern is that like some best selling authors, they reach a point in their career where they no longer listen to their editors. This book needed to be cut down. More isn't always better. An active editor could have made this a better "Bill Bryson Book." I enjoy his insights and especially his humorous asides, but at some point you need to let a topic go and move on to the next point. He didn't need to include ALL of his research.
For me, this bordered on being tedious. I know I'm in the minority here. People seem to love this book as much as his others. I liked his approach and style in other books much more. This volume was a letdown for me.
Perhaps, I would have liked the abridged version more. (One third the length and read by Bryson himself!) Perhaps cosmology is just not a topic that grabs me. (But other authors like Neil DeGrass Tyson have held my interest.) Either way, you may not want this book to be your first Bill Bryson book. Walk in the Woods or some of the others give you a better view of his unique perspectives on the world we inhabit together.
Listen to it right NOW.
This audiobook should be played in the background while you drive, in the kids bedroom, while you sleep. It should be your ringtone.
Listen to it right NOW.
I have read about half of this book and found it a little bit frustrating that I didn't know how to pronounce some of the words. That's why I bought this audio book. Because Bryson touches on practically every major topic in science in this book, you might consider A Short History as your crash course in science.
As organized as he might have tried to be, Bryson didn't succeed in achieving the level of articulateness in the flow of topics. But the book covers an extensive array of subjects after all. All in all, it's a great choice for people like me who don't know much about science.
No B.S. reviews. I'll never soft-pedal bad writing or inept narration.
Well read and written. If you're a science buff, it will likely put some missing pieces into place. If you're a science novice, it's a great place to start. In either case, very entertaining and well read.
Among the audiobooks that I've listened to, this is the second non-fiction that I've listened to, and I was pleasantly surprised how well my 14-year old son and I liked it.
We loved hearing about all the obscure scientists (along with the famous ones such as Newton and Einstein) that made great discoveries in science and how they got there.
Mr. Matthews reads with a wonderful British accent.
There were several quirky scientists that we laughed about, but there was one particular inventor that my son and I agreed just got about everything wrong! He invented leaded-gasoline and CFC's and built a polio machine that managed to kill him.
Great book for re-educating yourself on concepts you forgot, or even missed, in high school and college!
This book is one of the best popular science books ever written. I have assigned students to listen to and read multiple versions of it during class over the years. Not only is it accessible and mind-blowingly fascinating, its history of modern science and all the idiosyncrasies of the major scientists who gave birth to its manifold discoveries is truly superb! And it's even pretty funny too, as educational books go.
So many of the scientists that Bryson's work concisely humanizes (and brings to life the rivalries of) are both memorable and fascinating. There are some truly bizarre and surprising anecdotes in this book.
Not bad, but very stuffy British sounding, with almost a pomposity to his tone... The other audio version I have heard was MUCH better (not sure if it was read by the author or someone else), but it might have been the CD version (though it was unfortunately abridged). In summary, this is the only unabridged audible version I know of that is available for this excellent book.
Superb book overall, but the reader could be better.
I'd recommend it as an interesting overview, to be followed up by more depth on topics of interest.
Isaac Newton transformed the way that science is done, and made many foundational contributions to mathematics, physics, optics, and more. On Newton, Bryson describes a small incident in optics experiments but skips major advances that Newton made in the other areas.
The narration is good, and Bill Bryson is to be commended for tackling such a big project. He has made this history very interesting to read.
Unfortunately, science is not static, and as more discoveries are made, theories have to change. Bryson doesn't have the time to talk about anything but the currently prevailing view which can, and often does, change with subsequent research. Examples include the big bang and macro-evolution which lack proof with hard evidence, and are not repeatable in the science laboratory. Bryson's readers will likely not realize this from the book.
From the opening chapter this not so little gem was fascinating. Each chapter and section building on the one before. Reminiscent of favorite professors each little discovery led to a "that's curious" moment and to another and another.
The narration was smooth rarely dry and at times amusing. I listened twice just to make sure I heard it all.
This is my first audio book ever and thanks to this wonderful and entertaining book I am very happy I did.
I could not stop listening since the way the stories where told in a great flow sometimes really funny that I just wanted to hear more and more.
90% to the success of this book belongs to the great narrator Richard Matthew.
The crazy thing is that I had no favorite. Every chapter was told in a new way and even better way than the one before.
His flow of words and tone of voice. I love him...to me it is like he really just reads the book just to me.
Impossible but if I could..would love too. After all 3 parts to the Book..,each one 5+hrs
total of over 15 hrs.
You need to get this one...if you are into History.