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A Short History of Nearly Everything | [Bill Bryson]

A Short History of Nearly Everything

In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson takes his ultimate journey - into the most intriguing and consequential questions that science seeks to answer. It's a dazzling quest, as this insatiably curious writer attempts to understand everything that has transpired from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: An ambitious title to say the least. But Bryson, arguably the best author-narrator around, gives us all an entertaining history lesson delivered in that voice-of-an-old-friend that has made all Bryson's work so enjoyable. This is no travelogue, as we are used to from Bryson, but it is more about life than any other "history" you'll hear. —Chris Doheny

Publisher's Summary

In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson takes his ultimate journey - into the most intriguing and consequential questions that science seeks to answer. It's a dazzling quest, as this insatiably curious writer attempts to understand everything that has transpired from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization.

To that end, Bill Bryson apprenticed himself to a host of the world's most profound scientific minds, living and dead. His challenge is to take subjects like geology, chemistry, paleontology, astronomy, and particle physics and see if there isn't some way to render them comprehensible to people, like himself, made bored (or scared) stiff of science by school.

On his travels through space and time, Bill Bryson encounters a splendid gallery of the most fascinating personalities ever to ask a hard question. In their company, he undertakes a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge. Science has never been more involving, and the world we inhabit has never been more full of wonder and delight.

©2003 Bill Bryson; (P)2003 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Destined to become a modern classic of science writing." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (2455 )
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  •  
    Sean Newport Beach, CA, USA 09-20-03
    Sean Newport Beach, CA, USA 09-20-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Highly Recommended"

    This was one of the most enjoyable books I have ever 'read'. I am an avid reader of science and other non-fiction books and I would place this one at or very near the top. Rather than stopping short at explaining the scientific principles, experiments, discoverers, dates etc, Bryson repeatedly puts it all into context to illustrate what an amazing and impossible world we live in. I realize that this isn't by any means a new approach, but he manages to do it in a very entertaining and engaging way. His voice and delivery are perfect for the task -- so much so that I'm not sure if I even would have enjoyed the written text as much on its own. Many stories that I have heard a hundred times (like Einstein's writings on relativity) I became much more exciting as narrated by Bryson. He also covers topics that are rarely covered in other popular science books, and makes you wonder how such interesting topics could be so universally neglected. I can't recommend this book strongly enough. Though I would say that I found the first couple of chapters less interesting than the remainder.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sy Albuquerque, NM, USA 03-22-09
    Sy Albuquerque, NM, USA 03-22-09
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    "GHASTLY REMINDER!"

    This is a fantastic book of perspective and in an odd way, filters stress from everyday life, leaving a seeping cup of tea that you can't wait to continue drinking.

    Dregs, though! How much I've forgotten from school! This book is a ghastly reminder of all the facts and figures that somehow leaked out of the follicles of my scalp and into oblivion. On the other hand, much information in this book has been obtained since my school days long ago, and therefore, this book is chock full of very interesting and usable morsels of human history.

    I keep trying to choose my favorite Bryson book, and he keeps making it increasingly difficult to do so, but maybe this little take on it will help you decide whether or not to buy it: you'll be the life of the party with all this stuff knocking around in your head waiting for the right moment in which to spring up and scck it to 'em (whoever 'em may be)! And, inevitably, it will come rolling out at just the right moment. Go ahead, get out the dusty punch bowl and give 'er a test spin.

    When you do begin the book, just make sure that every time you hear a date or a name, mentally pin it up on the board with a big imaginary red thumb tack, because it's probably something you'll want to remember. I hate admitting having to do this, but it is, afterall, an audio book, which means presumbaly, you'll be doing other things besides reading when absorbing the information therein.

    So thumb-tack away, because it's really, honestly, worth every penny and more. Enjoy, and share the information you've learned with 100 of your closest friends. It will give you all an awful lot to talk about. Just remember to warn then that they may end up exchanging their current favorite author for this one, so be prepared.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benjamin Portland, OR, USA 01-21-08
    Benjamin Portland, OR, USA 01-21-08 Member Since 2013
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    "Required Listening"

    This book is absolutely unbelievable. It should be required for anyone outside of school as a sort of adult text book you actually want to learn from. Written (and read) in plain language, the science remains in the proper place for lay people: fascinating and awe-inspiring, not incomprehensible and tedious. If you're always interested in the world and the balance of life, get this audio-book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nan S. HIll 10-07-04
    Nan S. HIll 10-07-04 Listener Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    3
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    "Most Entertaining and Informative"

    This was so good, I plan on listening to it at least several more times so as to absorb all the facts.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    reggie p PA 10-19-03
    reggie p PA 10-19-03 Member Since 2006

    reggie

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    "Fantastic, but get the unabridged-- it's available"

    This was a great book in every way...the topic, the writing, the narration, etc. I find this kind of stuff extremely fascinating and the author makes it even more interesting with his subtle sarcasm and quips. He starts out with some of the same cosmology material that's in Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of time but makes it a little more understandable and then gets down to more earthly things like geology, evolution, chemistry, and biology. He amazingly ties it all together giving you a wonderfully new perspective on human life on the planet Earth. Read this BEFORE (not instead of) the Stephen Hawking's book.
    My only disappointment is that it is now available in the unabridged format and I will have to use another one of my credits to get it after spending one on the abridged version. No more abridged books for me, at least none by this author. I just hope the narrator is as good.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Baton Rouge, LA, USA 07-04-03
    Mark Baton Rouge, LA, USA 07-04-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent Book and VERY Easy to Understand"

    This is an excellent book! The author provides depth of detail without boring the reader. The book intertwines philosophy and fact so well that that when the book is finished you truly have a better understanding of "Nearly Everything." The author has a pleasant voice and is an easy listen. I recommend to all!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Boone, NC, USA 03-27-08
    Jonathan Boone, NC, USA 03-27-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"

    Brilliantly compiled and wonderfully delivered. I think it works well in audio format.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rich Charlotte, NC, USA 09-07-05
    Rich Charlotte, NC, USA 09-07-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An enjoyable science book for everyone"

    "A Physicist is an atom's way of thinking about the atom." - an anonymous quote from this book.

    A collection of atoms named Bill Bryson has written a very enjoyable book in which he thinks about atoms, the big bang, the ocean floor, dinosaurs, e=mc2 and basically everything thing else important that would help you understand what scientists currently know about the universe and life within it. You'll learn a lot but you'll be startled by how much we still don't know and how much is just plain beyond most of us.

    Bryson gets into biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy and physics and helps to explain all of this by writing with a wry sense of humor. The audiobook is read by a British gentlemen named Richard Matthews who adds a Monty Python-like sense of the absurd to everything. Bryson never gets too deep into the science of it all. Rather, he makes things interesting by delving into anecdotes about the colorful characters who are responsible for discovering everything we know so far. Since the 17th century, science has been littered with backstabbers, sexual deviants, self-mutilators, religious zealots, and stubborn blowhards. The stories behind the science turn out to be surprisingly entertaining.

    I really learned a lot from this book and would have liked it to continue even further. That couldn't have been everything, right?

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Oakland, CA, USA 06-25-05
    Chris Oakland, CA, USA 06-25-05
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    "Wonderful - for science geeks or anyone"

    Everyone seems to agree that the narration of this audiobook is superb, and it is. As a science geek who loves non-fiction titles, this book was a joy. Unabridged, the book was never was boring, and it continued to weave a more and more complex - but simple - view of our universe. The connections and stories behind many of mankind's biggest discoveries and revelations is fascinating and often rather hilarious. The simple explanations to some of the more complex mechanics of our existence are a benefit for those who already understand these processes, as well as those who are learning about them for the first time. A real "eye-opener".

    If you are looking for vastly detailed observations on scientific breakthroughs, this book isn't for you... the title says it all "A SHORT History of Nearly Everything" Despite its unabridged length it'll leave you wanting to know more, I would have been happy if the book was twice as long.

    You'll also be left with a head full of great and interesting facts theat can bring on some interesting discussions with friends, or score you points on Jeopardy.

    Four Stars... the only reason I don't give this 5 is simply because I've liked other books a bit more, however its the best non-fiction/science audiobook I have ever heard. Highly recommended.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    steve 12-28-04
    steve 12-28-04 Member Since 2008
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    "Entrancing"

    I have listened to this book on more than several occasions and each time I am fascinated. Struck again and again by how Bryson has woven our story. I'm sure I will listen again and again.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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