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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

4.4 (7032 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Erin&Merilee DeSpain Virginia 08-13-05
    Erin&Merilee DeSpain Virginia 08-13-05 Member Since 2001

    Family on the move.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    61
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    302
    16
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    "Mind-Alteringly Good!"

    How truly puny we really are. This book will change your perspective on your place in the universe.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-14-05 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    10
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    Overall
    "Great"

    The most interesting book ever.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Swee Loke 03-17-05
    Swee Loke 03-17-05
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    81
    2
    Overall
    "Very interesting and inspiring"

    Enjoy it, wish it were longer...

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edwin Hanscom AFB, MA, United States 02-07-05
    Edwin Hanscom AFB, MA, United States 02-07-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
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    6
    6
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    1
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    Overall
    "Entertaining"

    This book presents a complicated subject matter in a very entertaining fashion. It seemed to me to be a blend of scientific fact and some presumption. He makes huge presumptions at various points, but that is not a problem if you discern where this occurs. Much of this book is very educational, though I would characterize it more as entertainment.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew 11-16-04
    Matthew 11-16-04
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Far too tedius"

    Bryson starts off with a good idea--write a history of earth and science highlighting the novel and the curious. He doesn't just do this for important historical events, but for everything. Listening becomes painfully tedious. It descends into a rant about how Bryson views the world and history, but without any theories. Imagine reading AJP Taylor for the details without any larger theory holding it together. The print version you can skim, an abridged version get the highlights, but with this version there is no escaping the boredom.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    12-08-09
    12-08-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    19
    8
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    0
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    Overall
    "good if you can't sleep"

    I listen to this book for a few minutes as a natural soporific. It should be titled "A Short History of the People Who Invented Science", as opposed to "A Short History of The Concepts Involved in Science."

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Sewell, NJ, United States 03-25-09
    Thomas Sewell, NJ, United States 03-25-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    312
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    71
    64
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    181
    0
    Overall
    "Sure, why not listen to it."

    Hey, he's funny right. Oh, its not read by him which I didn't notice at first. The narrator does just fine, but if you expect Bill, then ahhhh shucks. Its written by him so its got some of his humor and style built in. You can hear it, but through anothers voice. And its what the title says. Its more like a semi-interesting overview of history. Its not dry (humm, still thinking), but its not a funny ha ha book like his 'in the woods' book, and a slight bit of a referency book feel (although I would have to throw a listen-to reference book out the car window rather then listen). Still, I rate it a high 3, almost four stars for the work(4 being the highest I generally give). Go for it, and it has a lot and is longer so a great value. Its ok. There is at least one other in the style out there. I listened all the way through without breaking off to other books as I sometime do when a book gets on my nerves or makes me fall asleep. Rate it up to 3.8. Its credit worthy.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay Woodland Hills, CA USA 02-08-14
    Jay Woodland Hills, CA USA 02-08-14

    Jay

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Did not meet my expectations"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    The book is good overview of how science has progressed across the last several centuries. The disappointment was because the book didn't enlighten me that much. For the price paid, I was expecting more. I would say the book is probably worth $20. On the plus side, it is not as boring as some of the other books I recently read.


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg Houston, TX, USA 06-16-10
    Greg Houston, TX, USA 06-16-10 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    "Only read if you like geology"

    Good narration.

    Parts of this book were interesting, but it's more of a history of scientific research. The author starts out explaining theories of how our universe is formed, which is pretty interesting. After that, the book is heavily tilted toward geology, which can be a bit dry (pardon the pun).

    I didn't find it to be worth two credits.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathan Atlanta, GA, USA 10-04-09
    Nathan Atlanta, GA, USA 10-04-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
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    77
    10
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    0
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    Overall
    "This book lives up to the hype"

    After listening to both abridged and unabridged versions, I would recommend them both. Either way, you won't be disappointed.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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