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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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  •  
    Joe K Torrance, CA, USA 06-22-05
    Joe K Torrance, CA, USA 06-22-05
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    REVIEWS
    1
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    "Impressive Unraveling of Nearly Everything"

    What a great and interesting way to put (almost) all of the scientific lineage into perspective. We hear so much of the end results, but what actually lead up to these scientific discoveries. The personalities and the piecing together of the little snippets were humorously woven into perspectives that I wouldn't have imagined. I'll listen to it again because I'm intrigued by life and what am I doing here. If you're just living day to day life this book might just put a new wonder into your living.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth New Milford, NJ, USA 06-21-05
    Elizabeth New Milford, NJ, USA 06-21-05 Member Since 2007
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    1
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    "Fascinating and entertaining"

    This is a thorougly enjoyable "read," sort of an "everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-science-but-were-afraid-to-ask." Ranging from cosmology to quantam physics to geology and beyond, the author answers all those little questions that you really wanted to know but your science teacher never thought to tell you: "How much does the earth weigh, how old is it, what's it made of --- AND HOW DO WE KNOW ALL THAT?" The answers are entertainingly interwoven with the often fascinating life stories of the scientists who discovered them, and presented in a way that is accesible and understandable for the lay reader. In addition, the narrator is superb, bringing just the right note of irony and tongue-in-cheek wryness to bring out the book's dry humor. Highly recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve from MD 06-13-05 Member Since 2011
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    "A Brief review of nearly everything."

    Excellent. Makes learning FUN.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Portland, OR, USA 06-10-05
    John Portland, OR, USA 06-10-05 Member Since 2008
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    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    "Absolutely fascinating, delightfully entertaining"

    I've been an Audible.com memeber for a full year now, and this is by far the best book I've had, and I've had some great ones. I loved this book so much, I was motived to take the time to write a review - my first. If you have a natural curiousity of how life in the universe - and our understanding of it - has come to be, this book will delight you with a humorous, engaging story of The Big Picture. Wonderfully read and written, like a Douglas Adams version of Science News. I can't say enough great things about this book, and even though it was comparatively long, I wanted much more. Please?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Bedford, VA, USA 06-07-05
    James Bedford, VA, USA 06-07-05
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    "Bill Bryson's Genius"

    I loved the abridged version so much that I purchased the unabridged version as soon as it came out. If you have the slightest interest in science you will enjoy this book. I had become accustomed to Bill Bryson's voice, and the unabridged version has some English chap narrating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-29-05 Member Since 2005
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    REVIEWS
    162
    2
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    "Fantastic!"

    Loved every minute of this fascinating book! Dazzled by the latest scientific breakthroughs, we tend to lose sight of historic firsts that were exciting and revolutionary in their day. Bryson allows brilliant minds and personalities to come alive in this journey through science past and present. He effectively shows how early discoveries formed the building blocks for our current base of scientific knowledge. I love the fact that Bryson isn't a slave to chronology - or any other "ology" for that matter! Can't recommend the book enough!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Gales New York, NY USA 04-22-05
    Peter Gales New York, NY USA 04-22-05 Member Since 2015
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    "Truly enjoyable and educational listen"

    Can't tell you how much I enjoyed the English accent and humor; while getting a history/science lesson at the same time. Hard facts with interesting and amusing trivia that had me laughing out loud at some parts. Much of it due to the way the stuff is read.

    Alas, it is not that way in it's entirety and there were some segments that I zoned out in boredom. Overall though, it's perhaps the best audio book I've listened to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 04-17-05
    Michael 04-17-05
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    "This book is a must have..."

    Started with the short version, like so well I ordered and listened to the unabridged version? This book covers everything from the start of time to virology? I?ve listened to it multiple times; it?s full of amazing facts? It?s so good you?ll probably be like me and end up buying the hardcover as a reference?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Allentown, PA, USA 04-16-05
    Amanda Allentown, PA, USA 04-16-05
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    "Excellent and fascinating glimpse into history!"

    Bryson trasnforms historic record, normally so dry and boring, into a lively tale that is easy to follow. Peppered with little-heard facts about well-known figures, this book is a must-listen for the history buff as well as the average Joe.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Bellevue, WA, USA 03-04-05
    Mark Bellevue, WA, USA 03-04-05
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    "Everything I never learned in school"

    I was supprised at just how interesting this book was. It covers a histroy of most all major branches of science, Astronomy, Geology, Biology, etc. and it does so in a way that is easy and interesting to understand. The book starts the with a few sections talking about how little we know about everything, and how much we thought we knew but were later proved wrong. Then he spends time talking about the large span of the universe, the tiny span of the atomic world. The he moves on to things that we "Know" about life today. He puts in many examples to make the content easy to understand, like imagine your arm as the timeline of the earth, in this case human exsistance can be compared to the amount of nail removed in one swipe of a nail file. Other times it is creepy to know that we share our beds, pillows, and bodies with millions of very small animals. It is facinating to learn that we know less about our own oceans on earth than we know about the universe we live in. It is all presented in a way that keeps you listening to the end.

    Recomended for anyone with a small hint of intrest in learning more about science.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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