©2003 Bill Bryson; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc. Published by Arrangement with Random House Audio Publishing Group, A Division of Random House, Inc.
"Not to be missed." (AudioFile)
"Destined to become a modern classic of science writing." (The New York Times Book Review)
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.
I'm a professional painter and love ennobling, enlightening literature
a most engaging presentation of the universe's history
information about the geysers in Yellowstone and what is inevitable was surprising
he magnified the humor
empty your bladder first; this is a long trip
anything Bill Bryson writes is magnificent
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.
Over the road Truck Driver. I enjoy audiobooks as they help the miles roll by.....Especially unabridged History and good Fiction.
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.
I plan on listening to this many times over. There is so much information, but in a easily understood package.
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).
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.
I am on the road constantly so I was able to get through this amazing book much easier in the audible form.
Yes, but that would be a lot of sitting
Great book. Kept me interested, and entertained from beginning to end. Great overview of nearly everything. Really enjoyed the narration as well.
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.
Thought provoking book.
The size of the universe.
His emphasis on important points
The relationship between humankind and earth's history.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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