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A Short History of Nearly Everything Audiobook

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

4.5 (10687 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kris R optional 02-05-13
    Kris R optional 02-05-13

    optional

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    "Good book for a book on tape"

    I enjoyed the reader and found the story easy to follow. I think everything was laid out really well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PWS ARLINGTON, TN, United States 02-05-13
    PWS ARLINGTON, TN, United States 02-05-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Great recap of all you forgot or never knew"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cyrus Portland, OR, United States 02-03-13
    Cyrus Portland, OR, United States 02-03-13
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    "A good-humored overview of planetary history"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Tucker 01-31-13
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    "Best Book Ever!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Newton


    Which character – as performed by Richard Matthews – was your favorite?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Alia Marx 01-28-13
    Alia Marx 01-28-13
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    "Bryson makes science fun!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    George Devidze Indiana 01-25-13
    George Devidze Indiana 01-25-13 Member Since 2015

    George

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    "too long unless you are a scientist"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would recommend this book to a select group of friends but not to casual readers.


    Has A Short History of Nearly Everything turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes, probably because the length of scientific discussions.


    Which character – as performed by Richard Matthews – was your favorite?

    none


    Do you think A Short History of Nearly Everything needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No, it is already covering the subject in great detail


    Any additional comments?

    none

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard 12-31-12
    Richard 12-31-12
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    "Circumnavigating earth with fresh eyes wide open."
    If you could sum up A Short History of Nearly Everything in three words, what would they be?

    Accurate, engaging, enlightening.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    What about Richard Matthews’s performance did you like?

    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.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The Story of Us.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    L. Dwyer OHIO 12-29-12
    L. Dwyer OHIO 12-29-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Loved the CD with Bill Bryson"
    Would you listen to A Short History of Nearly Everything again? Why?

    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.


    How could the performance have been better?

    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.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It would be great but simply too much time to do in one sitting-without getting a blood clot in your legs.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arda 12-27-12
    Arda 12-27-12

    Born to be a writer. Raised to forget about it. Follow me on twitter @ArdaWhateverian

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    "This is Mind Blowing"
    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    qhumberd 12-23-12
    qhumberd 12-23-12
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    "Long but engaging"
    What did you love best about A Short History of Nearly Everything?

    The narration keeps your attention


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Short History of Nearly Everything?

    The description of how we are always 3 minutes from the end of the earth was done well


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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