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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

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  •  
    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
  •  
    heART seneca sc 07-06-13
    heART seneca sc 07-06-13 Member Since 2013

    I'm a professional painter and love ennobling, enlightening literature

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    "doesn't get better"
    What made the experience of listening to A Short History of Nearly Everything the most enjoyable?

    a most engaging presentation of the universe's history


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    information about the geysers in Yellowstone and what is inevitable was surprising


    What does Richard Matthews bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    he magnified the humor


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

    empty your bladder first; this is a long trip


    Any additional comments?

    anything Bill Bryson writes is magnificent

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W. Myers Chicago, IL USA 06-08-13
    W. Myers Chicago, IL USA 06-08-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Wonderfully accessible, charming and witty"

    The best part about Bill Bryson's book is the time devoted to detailing the personalities of the (sometimes hapless) historical figures involved. If you're already a devoted science reader then you may find some of the information covered rather elementary, but like any well-written primer one realizes that there are plenty of treasures yet to be revealed.

    Special kudos to Richard Matthews and the audio producers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas SAN MARCOS, CA, United States 06-05-13
    Thomas SAN MARCOS, CA, United States 06-05-13 Member Since 2016

    Over the road Truck Driver. I enjoy audiobooks as they help the miles roll by.....Especially unabridged History and good Fiction.

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    "Easy overview of most all science topics."
    If you could sum up A Short History of Nearly Everything in three words, what would they be?

    A very good, well researched book. And the title pretty well sums it up. I got the abridged version a few years ago, and saw this...AWESOME! UN-abridged! If you have a lot of driving to do, this book will keep you interested.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David lubbock, texas, United States 06-04-13
    David lubbock, texas, United States 06-04-13
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    "Entertaining and Informative!"
    Would you listen to A Short History of Nearly Everything again? Why?

    I plan on listening to this many times over. There is so much information, but in a easily understood package.


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

    Not at all. Even if someone did have 18 hours to sit down and listen, there would be so much information you wouldn't hold much of it in. Still, great to listen to for long periods (road trips for myself).


    Any additional comments?

    I took an English class in which we read "A Walk in the Woods" by Bryson as well as "The Curve of Binding Energy" by John McPhee. I would have loved to replace the two with this book instead.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    darrius SAINT LOUIS, MO, United States 05-31-13
    darrius SAINT LOUIS, MO, United States 05-31-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Just GREAT"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Short History of Nearly Everything to be better than the print version?

    I am on the road constantly so I was able to get through this amazing book much easier in the audible form.


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

    Yes, but that would be a lot of sitting


    Any additional comments?

    Great book. Kept me interested, and entertained from beginning to end. Great overview of nearly everything. Really enjoyed the narration as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DEBrianKelley 05-29-13

    nlnnet-us

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    "Broad coverage with moments of depth"
    Any additional comments?

    The book is a fun listen. It covers lots of categories which are truly universal and of importance to all - although many would not initially be thought of as "history". It has many interesting anecdotes about important knowledge and the performance by Richard Matthews in delivering the often tongue in cheek prose from Bryson is just wonderful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Everett CAMARILLO, CA, United States 05-25-13
    Everett CAMARILLO, CA, United States 05-25-13 Member Since 2016
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    "Great"
    If you could sum up A Short History of Nearly Everything in three words, what would they be?

    Thought provoking book.


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

    The size of the universe.


    What does Richard Matthews bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His emphasis on important points


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The relationship between humankind and earth's history.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cristobal 05-20-13
    cristobal 05-20-13 Member Since 2011

    cristobal

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    "This is one of my three all time favorite books"

    This is definitely one of my "stuck on a desert island" books. I own in in DT, EB and now audible. I'm a total science geek, and this book pretty much spoon feeds. It's one of those books that I'm always kind of reading. I was delighted to see that the unabridged version finally hit Audible.

    Also, Richard Matthews is a fantastic narrator.

    This is going to sound a little weird, but I pretty much fall asleep to the audible version of this every single night.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, United States 05-19-13
    Dan SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, United States 05-19-13 Member Since 2013
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    "One of Bill Bryson's best and well worth your time"
    Would you listen to A Short History of Nearly Everything again? Why?

    Yes, because it is quite pithy. I appreciate Bill Bryson's taking the time to put some aspects of our lives into this interesting context as life passes by, often in a fast stream. Also, the memory is not that great, and I observe I can listen to a book again and get many ideas that I had missed upon the first exposure. These are good ideas! Worthy of integrating. A bit of modern day philosophy.


    What other book might you compare A Short History of Nearly Everything to and why?

    I kind of liked the overview of P.J. O'Rourke, "All the Troubles in the World", that- is another look from outside the general consensus and popular norm but there is also no question that P.J. O'Rourke is a modern day humorist standing clearly in the great shadow of Mark Twain/S.Clements. Bill Bryson has his own bit of irony, added with a sardonic puzzlement that often leaves one with an internal joy of the additional perspective.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The book hits the ground running, describing how humans are composed of indifferent atoms that if disassembled none of the atoms would have a consciousness of being alive. It is interesting to address these simple complexities and then it goes on from there.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It doesn't make one laugh or cry as much as it informs and makes one think. I believe readers of this book are simply better thinkers from having these perspectives available as part of their wonder and reflections on human history.


    Any additional comments?

    I have recommended this book to many friends and have received thanks in appreciation. If nothing else it is fun, and I applaud Bill Bryson for his effort in it's creation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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