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A Short History of Nearly Everything | [Bill Bryson]

A Short History of Nearly Everything

Bill Bryson has been an enormously popular author both for his travel books and for his books on the English language. Now, this beloved comic genius turns his attention to science. Although he doesn't know anything about the subject (at first), he is eager to learn, and takes information that he gets from the world's leading experts and explains it to us in a way that makes it exciting and relevant.
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Audible Editor Reviews

"Imagine if you can -- and of course you can't..." is how Bryson opens his explanation of how a universe is born. And he has the uncanny ability to not say too much, nor too little; to use metaphors brilliantly but without cliché; and to sound like he's actually learning as he goes along. Like Stephen Hawking before him, Bryson skips from one BIG topic to the next with the curiosity of a child and the patience of a schoolteacher. It's like having a front-row seat to the history of the world.

With his slightly bemused English accent, narrator Richard Matthews sounds completely at home in the material, chatting knowingly and with perfect dry comic timing. For managing to cover the universe and keep it lively, this experience definitely merits as an all-time favorite.

Publisher's Summary

Bill Bryson has been an enormously popular author both for his travel books and for his books on the English language. Now, this beloved comic genius turns his attention to science. Although he doesn't know anything about the subject (at first), he is eager to learn, and takes information that he gets from the world's leading experts and explains it to us in a way that makes it exciting and relevant. Even the most pointy-headed, obscure scientist succumbs to the affable Bryson's good nature, and reveals how he or she figures things out. Showing us how scientists get from observations to ideas and theories is Bryson's aim, and he succeeds brilliantly. It is an adventure of the mind, as exciting as any of Bryson's terrestrial journeys.

©2003 Bill Bryson; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc. Published by Arrangement with Random House Audio Publishing Group, A Division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Not to be missed." (AudioFile)
"Destined to become a modern classic of science writing." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Amazon Customer 12-25-03 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating science - - engaging writing."

    I've listened to this over and over. I don't think I've ever said "Wow!" or laughed out loud so much when driving by myself. Although he deals with profound and far reaching subjects, from the Big Bang to geology to DNA, he does it in a way that is affable, and very understandable. Bryson is a first-rate writer, and his light English accent has a way of making his understated humor even more entertaining. Listening to this book, I felt, I still feel, profoundly aware of how wonderful it is that there is life at all in the universe, and how absurd we are when we fail to cherish and protect it at all cost. Bravo, Bill! P.S. Also loved "A Walk in the Woods."

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ward Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 12-12-03
    Ward Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 12-12-03
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    "I Listened To It Twice!"

    Not often do I listen to an entire audio book twice, but this is one that I will probably listen to again and again.
    That said, I am a bit of a science geek.
    Strongly recommended. You'll love it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teri Rocklin, CA, USA 11-06-03
    Teri Rocklin, CA, USA 11-06-03
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    "If Bill Bryson were the reader, it would be a 5!"

    If you've listened to Bill Bryson narrate his own writing, you're accustomed to his cadence and well placed pauses which allow his words to sink in and, quite frequently, induce tears of laughter. This effect is lost in the audio version of "A Short History of Nearly Everything." The narrator speaks clearly, there's no problem there, but his speed and delivery don't create the same experience as do Bill's.

    21 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judd Bagley Utah 08-22-08
    Judd Bagley Utah 08-22-08 Member Since 2015

    Max Fisher of Rushmore Academy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "one of the best purchases I've made."

    I learned more practical, applicable information from this book than possibly any other I can immediately think of.
    If you have a single curious bone in your body, you'll find this work extremely satisfying.
    If you're full of curious bones, as am I, you're guaranteed to view and appreciate most everything in a new light.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, United States 07-25-05
    Julia Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, United States 07-25-05 Member Since 2005
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    "A complete breakfast"

    Forget high school science. Just have your kids enjoy this book. Bryson gives a very understandable and thorough overview of astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, etc., in an extremely engaging way. It is like hearing your favorite college professor sit down on a table in front of a group of students and weaving a fascinating story. The human interest aspects of the books were a plus to the scientific explanations. Although this is a tremendously enjoyable read for inquisitive adults, share it with your children and they might actually take up an enduring interest in science. This book is certainly far better than all of my high school science courses combined (and probably college too). Highly recommended.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara San Antonio, TX, United States 05-03-05
    Barbara San Antonio, TX, United States 05-03-05 Member Since 2002
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    "Everyone needs to know this stuff"

    Near the beginning Bryson states that he knew almost nothing about the only world he would ever inhabit. Most people seem to be in pretty much the same state. If you listen to this you will join him in not being quite so ignorant.

    That's great, but what I like best is that while he presents our best current understanding of how our universe works, he also provides a series of wonderful profiles of the very human men and women who have slowly and painfully (and in some cases arrogantly) built up the framework of what we know -- and upon which we will continue to built our understanding. It is an ode to science and scientists. As far as I am concernerned this should be required readling...or listening!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Walter Benton Harbor, MI, USA 12-22-04
    Walter Benton Harbor, MI, USA 12-22-04 Member Since 2013
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    "Awesome Summary of Time"

    I found this vast summary of 'nearly everything' extremely entertaining and informative to listen to, from the formation of the universe, to the history of science, to the fossil record and early homonids. I rewound this book so many times over again that it took me nearly twice as long to listen to it. Highly recomended for anyone kind of nerdy or intellectual (same thing really)

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lois Newton, NJ, USA 09-19-04
    Lois Newton, NJ, USA 09-19-04
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    "Unbelievable!"

    I actually found myself fascinated by stories of stromatolites and geological societies... and i can listen to this over and over again without being bored, which is saying a lot because i usually have the attention span of a squirrel. Bill Bryson has given a gift to the world by illuminating important but typically dry information in a fascinating story-like book. I hope he will publish many more books like this, although his travel books are also among my favorites, especially A Walk in the Woods.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer 09-09-04 Member Since 2006
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    "Overwhelming"

    What a great book! I liked it so much I bought the hardback so that I could mark favorite my passages. I highly recommend it for anyone who has the slightest interest in the world around them.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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    Rowan Marlborough, MA, USA 02-06-04
    Rowan Marlborough, MA, USA 02-06-04 Member Since 2003
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    "Dont miss this one."

    One of the better books I've ever read. Alas if only I could remember even a fraction of those facts. I'd be trivia king of the world. Good mix of fact and humour. Just fascinating and very well done. It is long, so you better enjoy this sort of thing. Even I who loved it, was kinda ready for the end. And what and end, makes me wish I could catch a glimpse into a day 100 years from now.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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