Bryson cut his teeth in travel writing after building a career as a newspaper columnist in the UK. Don't let that stop you from picking this book however because while it does qualify as an educational tome it delivers its knowledge with the razor sharp wit and unique world view that is Bill at his best!
Be prepared for the topic to shift widely while listening. This is a book that is more suited towards (and pure perfect for) use as a commuteer listen. It is divided up into neat sectional notions that are just the right length to listen on your way to and from work with maximum enjoyment.
The author reads with the pleasant voice of a long-lost but loveable uncle you just don't get to see and hear enough. Despite being educational the author delivers edutainment and he earned his 5 stars.
Great narration. Engaging mix of history and theory. Sweeping in scope. Enjoyable in style. However, for people already familiar with the basics of science, the content does not have as much to offer by way of theory. On a personal note, I found the section on fossil discoveries very enjoyable and full of interesting anecdotes.
The readers charming accent enhanced the dry humor of this book. I learned a lot and enjoyed a topic I might otherwise find hard to stay awake for.
Overall great book to listen to. Nothing that really opens eyes or that surprises...just basic school learned stuff put into detail and explained. Great job doing what it set out to do.
Bill Bryson made me realize that billions of living beings and inaminate objects are moving constantly without me having any control or say. He also described thoroughly how much there is still to learn about nearly everything. I can only decide on my own use of time, my own response to the suggestions of my conscience and my effort to keep on going.
First, the book: fantastic! Bryson is a great journalist/essayist, and in his able hands some potentially mind-numbing material comes to life. I heartily recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the natural world, eager to reawaken dormant knowledge--you know, the stuff you learned in high school biology.
Second, the narrator: superb! Matthews is British (whereas Bryson is not), so those of you who find English accents annoying may not enjoy the narration. The rest of you should enjoy Matthews' wonderful work. He has a knack for making Bryson's wit and humor shine through, communicating just the right mix of genuine wonder and wry amusement. Truly a pleasure to hear.
The book was good to a point, then about one third of the book was his exposition on the evolutionary theory, I was expecting a history of many diverse subjects, not another long boring lecture on evolution. If you want to hear about evolution then this is your book, If your looking for a diverse historical expose then I would not recommend this book.
Bryson's work is definitely worth a listen and a re-listen. It is an immense compilation of facts about the growth of science, the individuals who pushed it forward, and the history of the times within which they lived. Very colorful and and lively, I came away feeling more conifident about the future of the human race, when such flowers bloom within.
The first audiobook I downloaded was the abridged version of this book. I don't even know why...I'd never heard of Bill Bryson, and I'm certainly not a science-minded person, but for some reason, it intrigued me. I absolutely loved the book - found it fascinating, and it held my attention very well, since it's only a small glimpse of everything. It has actually inspired me to research some of these things more! Plus, I have discovered a new favorite author..my husband and I enjoy him so much, that we've listened to almost every one of his books (only two more to go!).
The unabridged version is, of course, even better because it includes so much more. The ONLY problem I have with this one is that Bryson doesn't narrate it himself, as he did the Abridged version, and as he does all of his others. It's still a great book...but without his tone and delivery, I was a little bit disappointed (but just a little bit :)
In my short 58 years on earth, I have never read / listened to a book that so captured both my attention and my imagination. An extremely entertaining book about an otherwise mundane subject, Bryson has managed to make science a whole lot more interesting. He brings historic characters to life, adds humor to humorless subjects, uses irony to great advantage, and finds exactly the right comparison from everyday life to explain the most incredible concepts. It's the one book that everyone who wants to know anything about life as we (don't) know it should read.