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A Short History of Nearly Everything Audiobook

A Short History of Nearly Everything

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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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  •  
    Mitzi Hol United States 09-07-13
    Mitzi Hol United States 09-07-13 Member Since 2011

    onlinebuyer in the City

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    "Great book/great reader"
    What other book might you compare A Short History of Nearly Everything to and why?

    I love Bill Bryson's writing style: he is truly brilliant.


    What about Richard Matthews’s performance did you like?

    Excellent performance by Richard Matthews


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

    No


    Any additional comments?

    One learns a lot by reading everything Bryson writes. But most of all, one learns a lot about gentle, clever and effective witticism. Brilliant.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John N. Berg Portland, Oregon 08-31-13
    John N. Berg Portland, Oregon 08-31-13 Member Since 2014

    buddhapop

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    "Full of Fun Facts"

    This really was an entertaining and educational 17 hours. The book covers everything from the creation of the planet and life to the extinction of the dodo. The writing has a certain sense of humor to it which makes what could be a dry topic entertaining. Ultimately you'll be amazed that life, let alone human life, is here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dennis fresno, CA, United States 08-28-13
    dennis fresno, CA, United States 08-28-13 Member Since 2011

    Reading and listening goes straight into your medulla oblongota and you learn through thought memory. It's like being programmed into intelligence. If you read this, you just learned that the best gifts are free. Or One Credit... and that's kinda free.

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    "Time. In perspective. A listen well spent."
    If you could sum up A Short History of Nearly Everything in three words, what would they be?

    Extraordinary story start to finish. Bones: For the love of science Jim, read this book!


    What did you like best about this story?

    In never ends. Ar Ar....a play on the history of the universe. Which of course does end - just not for a long, long, time.


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

    Impossible. Took it in over a three month period and enjoyed it immensely. Love the ending [insert wit and satire here]. Be sure to enjoy the perspectives of where we stand in the scheme of the big bang. The analogy of humans walking on the earth a mere 13 minutes before midnight on a 24 hour clock since-the-beginning of time is insane. Cant get that out of my head (hence the insanity). That and a billion pro-creative acts to come up with the right ME is better than winning the lottery - it made me feel special (not me, us!). That type of perspective is brilliant, entertaining, and well - it felt like I listening to Carl Sagan for the first time. If Mr. Bryson comes up with the story of the future, buzz me.


    Any additional comments?

    None. Just ran out of time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    flintstone 08-27-13
    flintstone 08-27-13
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    "One of the best!"

    this was absolutely one of the best books i've read/listened to. it was captivating and the content was just amazing. the narration was amazing as well. you almost don't want the book to ever end. i would definitely listen to it again (and again)...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James COLUMBUS, OH, United States 08-24-13
    James COLUMBUS, OH, United States 08-24-13 Member Since 2016
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    "This book IS AWESOME"

    This is one of the best books I've ever read. There is so much information packed in here that I had never even heard about... my mind is blown.

    I'm a (typical?) product of public education who hated science in school and managed to learn nothing about it, focusing on music and art instead. I HATED science. Well, 15 years later, I find myself an ignoramus and in more or less desperate need to learn some science. I'm one who would rather remain ignorant than sludge through some boring-ass textbook-type piece-of-crap written for god knows who, so... what could I do about this?

    Bill Bryson writes for the layman! He hits on the essentials in a humored and interested way, throwing in some quick, useful analogies, and then moves along to something else. I can't believe how easy to read he made all of these facts!

    Probably a big help in this book was his method of always attributing all of this discovered knowledge to the discoverers, even managing to tell us about their personalities and a bit of their interests and personal lives, too. This really helps in figuring out why some particular scientific discovery came to be, or why, for example, a scientist would discover something yet not tell anyone about it for 40 years. Why was a bunch of botany knowledge collected at once? Well, because for some reason the world became obsessed with botany discoveries, like it would today become obsessed with singing competitions. Fame and fortune for botany discoveries! ... The book is packed with this type of information to accompany the scientific discoveries themselves. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book.

    If I see Bill Bryson in public I intend to give him a big hug and smile!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 08-23-13
    Tim United States 08-23-13 Member Since 2011

    Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?

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    "Bits and Pieces"

    Bill Bryson does it again with "A Short History of Nearly Everything." If you want to know bits and pieces of nearly everything, this is a must read. For example did you know man's beard grows faster when he is thinking about sex because thinking about sex produces a testosterone surge? (I need to shave.) Or, did you know that a pillow that is 6 years old, it is estimated that 1/10 of its' weight is made up of sloughed skin, living mites, dead mites, and mite dung? (I need an new pillow.) There are more crazy facts that I never thought about in this book. It was excellent read for my mind grasped to. I was totally intrigued on how much useful information there is.

    This is not my first introduction to this author. I have read several of his titles and I am always amazed how he includes facts and figures in his stories.

    A Short History of Nearly Everything is a condense version of World Book Encyclopedia, but with useful information.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marion 08-20-13
    Marion 08-20-13
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    "Utterly Fascinating."

    This is a book that is not only fascinating to listen to but so replete with information that I am going to buy a print copy too. I have already recommended it to many friends. The audio version is exceptionally engaging and I thoroughly enjoyed the reader's style of presentation. It is hard to describe briefly how the book covers the millennia beginning with the inception of the entire Universe and continuing on to the present century. To say it is thought-provoking is an extreme understatement. Anyone who is even mildly interested in life on this planet, evolution, the sciences, history, politics and so much more will be informed and entertained to their heart's content. It is difficult to stop listening for even awhile as the pace carries the reader to more and more discoveries throughout the course of time immemorial. I want to emphasize too, that despite the prodigious amount of information, there is humor on every "page." The author ingeniously infuses humor into every aspect of revelatory research and describes factoids and details most of us would never have known from reading other works. I LOVED this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey 08-09-13
    Jeffrey 08-09-13 Member Since 2015
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    "I wish I had this book 20 years ago."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Would I recommend? I have recommended to just about everyone that will listen.


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

    Bill Bryson takes some very difficult concepts and lays them out in simple language that anyone can understand. Many times I felt like I was on a tour, enjoying the amazing world around us.


    Have you listened to any of Richard Matthews’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    First time with Richard, very enjoyable.


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

    While you don't want to stop listening, it is best to take in parts, so you have time to consider the information you are taking in. Excellent. have already listened to it twice.


    Any additional comments?

    If it is the only book you listen to this year, it is well worth the time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MarketSmartLee 07-21-13

    LA

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    "A Great Survey of the History of well...EVERYTHING"
    If you could sum up A Short History of Nearly Everything in three words, what would they be?

    Broad, Captivating, Amusing


    What did you like best about this story?

    The author has a great wit. He's never boring. He ties in quips, anecdotes and analogies that make difficult concepts easy to grasp. It also frames them in a very interesting way. The book covers a lot of ground and moves very quickly.


    What about Richard Matthews’s performance did you like?

    I loved his accent. He was an excellent narrator. Easy on the ears!


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

    Yes!! I will listen to it again. It covers so much, you know you didn't grasp enough. But it is a lengthy book. Few could march through it all at once.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Turangalila Long Island, NY, USA 07-13-13
    Turangalila Long Island, NY, USA 07-13-13 Member Since 2012

    music geek

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    "Breezy and Brillant"

    How did we get here? Where is here exactly? And for that matter what are we? Bill Bryson takes up these questions and leads us on a tour of science and the history of science – from particle physics to astronomy and cosmology, through chemistry, geology, biology and much else besides. He is so endlessly engaging and entertaining that it's easy to overlook how much one is learning amid all the compelling human stories of scientists famous and unknown, professionals and amateurs, but all brilliant and endearingly (or infuriatingly) quirky and weird.

    Richard Matthews, posh English accent aside, does wonderful work in capturing Bryson's breezy, conversational tone, even in exploring the densest thickets of atomic structure, rock chemistry, ocean salinity, etc etc etc.

    The themes that emerge through all of this are just how little we still know, and above all just how accidental, fragile, and tenuous life (especially human life) is, and how much our ignorance and carelessness as a species threaten our very existence. Bryson enumerates the many threats we can't control – volcanoes, earthquakes, meteors – while eloquently appealing for us to come to terms with those we can.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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