• A Short History of Nearly Everything

  • By: Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by: Bill Bryson
  • Length: 5 hrs and 47 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (3,320 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $21.27

Buy for $21.27

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

One of the world’s most beloved and best selling writers takes his ultimate journey - into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer.

In A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson trekked the Appalachian Trail - well, most of it. In In A Sunburned Country, he confronted some of the most lethal wildlife Australia has to offer. Now, in his biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand - and, if possible, answer - the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. 

Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, traveling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. 

A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.

©2003 Bill Bryson (P)2003 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House Inc.
  • Abridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

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

What listeners say about A Short History of Nearly Everything

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,028
  • 4 Stars
    780
  • 3 Stars
    335
  • 2 Stars
    113
  • 1 Stars
    64
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    972
  • 4 Stars
    222
  • 3 Stars
    91
  • 2 Stars
    13
  • 1 Stars
    12
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    924
  • 4 Stars
    248
  • 3 Stars
    104
  • 2 Stars
    14
  • 1 Stars
    17

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

This audio edition is abridged!

As I listened to this book, I had the feeling that it was missing a lot of details, explanations, and Brysonisms though it was nonetheless enjoyable. At the very end, I realized that this is an abridged version due the the crediting of an abridgement editor (I hadn't noticed that the abridgement notice on audible). The audio recording is only about half the book. No wonder it seemed sketchy. From what I've read of the book, it seems much better. I hope that Bill or Random House will put out a recording of the whole book.

106 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Entertaining, educational, and fun

What more can you ask for? From atoms to cosmology, we learn not only of why people think what they do, but also some of the characters who initially thought that way. I had no idea that Issac Newton was such an oddball; it certainly lets you know that nerds are not a new phenomena.

105 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

One of the best

In short, simply fabulous. If this book in anyway piques your interest, then you definitely should select it. Never have I enjoyed a book on such weighty matters - it is concise, informative, thought provoking, while at all times witty!

78 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Short history of nearly everything

Not bad. This guy is a good narrator. He should quit his dayjob and narrate documentaries. This guy went to a lot of trouble to get all this information together. It was very informative and entertaining. Lots of mindcandy.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Listen to this book with your kids!

I admit I am a big Bryson fan, but this is his best book yet. I'll let others speak to content, but I wanted to urge parents to share this book with their kids. I read the unabridged hard copy, then downloaded the abridged version so I could share it with my daughters - ages 10, 16, and 18. We listened on a long road trip through Montana. If you can believe it, they all cried when it was over, touched by Bryson's poignant message at the end about our place in the universe and the attendant responsibility of being at the (current) pinnacle of evolution. When we got home, my two older daughters immediately went to the bookstore to purchase their own copies so they could read the entire book again. It's gotta be good when your teenagers can't put it down. And it has generated great family conversation about a wide variety of topics ever since. Listen to this book. It will make you a more interesting and interested person . . . .

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Nearly Everything Is Missing

When I picked up this book, I thought the "everything" in "nearly everything" was everything. In the introduction, the author makes it seem that way too. He fails to mention (anywhere in the book) that his perception of "everything" is just the natural sciences. It is a fun, engaging, acceptably thorough survey of the way mankind first discovered and now views the natural sciences, and for that, it is worth notice. But to say that it is a take on everything is not only wrong, but arrogant and blind.

The biggest part of "everything" is man's culture and it is not even regarded except in the findings of science. And even then, it is severely deficient. When it looks at Relativity or Evolution, for example, it passes up the opportunity for really exploring the theories so that the author can spend more time on the scientist's lives and events surrounding the actual science. I guess that's why it's a history, but getting just a taste is painful for those seeking more than just cocktail party anecdotes. The book doesn't even touch on all the sciences--most notably lacking a survey of psychology. Neuroscience is perhaps at the forefront of "everything" and it isn't even hinted at here.

Instead, Bryson broadcasts, in the officious, repetitive and sarcastic way so many outside of science do, that man and his culture are insignificant, lucky and dangerous. Amnesia strikes the author several times as he asserts how innovative and creative we have been by examining a few of the great natural philosophers and then abruptly claims how harmful and puny we are. He will claim how vast the earth is and how easily it (or an asteroid) could destroy the insignificant mankind and then notes how we are destroying the earth and are a likely candidate for the most destructive thing in the universe.

Bryson sees man's product as shameful and the rest of the universe as brilliant and awesome. The truth of the latter should not necessitate the former.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Bryson does it again!

Bryson's done it again. His witty and informative travelogue series has provided hours of entertainment.

A Short History... is defintely a departure from his typical format and that had me a little curious about how he would address these issues. As a working scientist and academic I was quite pleased with his handling of the material. It's a nicely written history of science enlivened quite nicely, thank you very much, with Bill's typical flair for a fine phrase.

As another reviewer pointed out, Bryson is undoubtedly the best narrator for his own work. He is a prime example of a man who knows his own words and delivers them phenomenally well!

Get this book! You won't regret it.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

One word after I finished, W O W!

Excellent narrarating, not just a mono tone educational listening, but shows character and personality. Flows from one subject to the next on nearly everything smoothly. This is one you may want to burn, definately does have high replay value. I plan on listening to it again in a few months myself. If your religion is against science, and have a rough time with evolution, this may not be for you though. It gets all five stars from me, thoughly enjoyed it.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

A long, random history of physics

I have enjoyed Bryson's books in the past and was looking forward to hearing his "laymans" take on science. I am a physics teacher and am always looking for pop-sci books to recommend to my students as well as get amunition for my own lectures. However, I was disappointed to discover that there is very little conceptual discussion on almost any of the topics that he --RANDOMLY-- mentions. If you don't already know what he is talking about 90 percent of the time, you will be lost in the sea of names and dates. Since this is aimed for the layman, I can't understand why everybody is reviewing it so well. The lack of logical progression is so bad that it sounds like the whole book was written in one long paragraph. There is no apparent thesis in this book. There are no interesting or funny anecdotes he has come up with to communicate any of the discoveries or concepts he mentions. There are plenty of other books that treat cosmology and science in general far more clearly.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A pleasure to listen to

As a scientist, I often find books designed for the nonscientist to be oversimplified or simply wrong. This book is rigorously accurate while presenting the material with a clarity and precision that keeps you both interested and informed. I give this audio book the highest rating as the most enjoyable I have listened to of the past 30 audio books I have enjoyed.

The author is also the narrator, and he is excellent. He makes the subjects of particle physics, anthropology and geology exciting and he presents the material with a mixture of timeline and relevance that brings everything together. Only at the very end does he present his opinions about all this, and they are worth listening to, but regardless of your views, you will enjoy the book.

This is as good as it gets. You owe yourself a listen.

11 people found this helpful