A Short History Of Nearly Everything

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A Short History Of Nearly Everything

by Bill Bryson

September 14, 2004 | Trade Paperback

A Short History Of Nearly Everything is rated 4.5769 out of 5 by 26.
One of the world’s most beloved and bestselling 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, travelling 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 560 pages, 9.19 × 6.09 × 1.19 in

Published: September 14, 2004

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385660049

ISBN - 13: 9780385660044

Found in: Science and Nature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! This book is fascinating. So well written. This book is everything that intrigues us about science without the dry-as-dust teachers droning on about it and making us abhor its very existence. For my full review, check out my blog: http://tubchairtimes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/short-history-of-nearly-everything-bill.html
Date published: 2012-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down I couldn't put it down! This is the first non-fiction book I can say that about. I wish some of my college professors presented information as well as Bill Bryson. I will definitely be reading more of his books.
Date published: 2010-06-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A history of scientific discoveries and their discoverers This is a very ambitious book by Bryson. He undertakes to explain, well, all major branches of science, and peppers their stories with his whimsy and occasional humour. The history in the title is natural history, not of civilization. His writing is very reachable and clear, and his style doesn't have empty generalizations. He actually makes high school science subjects extremely interesting, I think, even for non-science minds, and he does this by poignant comments and putting a human face to the discoveries. And I think that last point is the key to this book's success. While it is a history of the discovery of sciences in our natural world, it is just as much a history of the people and their stories that made those discoveries and developed those theories. I learned a great deal, not only in the specifics of the branches but also in how they connect, which is something you may not get from a show about biology or geology, since he also takes a horizontal view. I also found it entertaining because of his writing style and personal stories.
Date published: 2009-10-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nice, neat package of geological history Bryson takes a look into the history of the earth, universe, the human race, and science in general. In over 450 pages, he manages to give you, well, a brief history of nearly everything involved with these subjects! It's a bunch of interesting facts stringed together with information about those who came up with the facts and what was involved to figure them out. Bryson covers everything from when Earth was created, what's at the centre of the earth, why do volcanoes/earthquakes happen, what are we all composed of, why did the dinosaurs go extinct, what is out there in our universe, how long people have been around, and much much more. It truly is amazing how recent some of these discoveries are! I guess I take for granted how common knowledge these discoveries are and just assume that we've known about them for a long time. It's also interesting to get the context behind the many discoveries that have shaped our history and learn a little bit about the people who made these discoveries. This book won't be for everyone. Some will find it too tedious and boring. But if you have a general interest in our history and how things have formed, then you'll enjoy this book. It's not the quickest read, but it is still quite interesting. I did find, however, the chapter on fossils a bit dull, but it moved on fairly quickly. It would be nice to get a compact view on our history in terms of human events to sit alongside this volume.
Date published: 2008-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy to read! This is my first time reading a book by Bill Bryson. I've always been facinated by the history of, well... everything! Bill did a great job of putting this book together for just about anyone to understand! Love it and hopefully will read more of his books in the future!
Date published: 2008-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Science for the Common Man "A Short History of Nearly Everything" will remain on my top ten list of books for a long time to come. I have always found science intriguing, but rarely have the ins and outs of our universe--from the greatest cosmological discoveries to the tiniest microscopic worlds--been explained so well, and so entertainingly. Bryson takes the reader on a trip through almost every aspect of science, introducing us to the great mysteries, wonder, and intrigue that can be found along the way. He also takes the time to talk about the often eccentric and notable personalities that have played major roles in the scientific discoveries we take for granted, and believe me, there were some really strange oddballs out there! Regardless of you level of schooling or scientific training, this book can be picked up and read by everyone--and I think it should be.
Date published: 2008-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The book everybody reads Ok, so clearly that's a lie. Because then you would have already read the book, and since you're reading this review.... you see what I mean. But my point is, it's the only book that has been read by every member of my family. Considering our diverse interests that is quite something. A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson is a fantastic book. Bryson is a travel writer by trade, but decided that there might just be something interesting about the world and universe in which we live, and so dived into the world of science. He's made science interesting and accessible, unlike all the textbooks that I ever had. He's done a tremendous amount of research, shows the causal links between what might seem like random acts. There are all kinds of terrific stories about the people involved and how seemingly intelligent 'discoveries' prove to be horribly destructive. It's an interesting book but not an overwhelming one and so if you wanted to be amazed this summer it would be a great read. Have fun in the sun! If you're interested in reading any of my other non-fiction book reviews please check out my blog: thebookhunter.typepad.com/my_weblog
Date published: 2008-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Short History of Nearly Everything Bill Bryson has produced a comprehensive book “of nearly everything”. If you want to know about atoms and molecules, anthropology, Einstein, Darwin, genetics or even the effect of over-fishing the oceans this book has the knowledge you are looking for. I loved reading about the extinct animals that our world was once blessed to have, can you imagine a sloth tall enough to look into a house’s upper window? What a treasure that some people had the mind set to record their observations of these extinct animals, but what a shame that people on whole did not realize the implications of misusing the earth and thereby causing extinction. One thing I have learned over the years and this book reinforces that theory is that science should be digested with a grain of salt. I use to believe that science was absolute, but as I age I now know that science and its concepts are in constant flux. A great book I recommend it to all adults and teens that have even the slightest interest in any genre of science.
Date published: 2008-05-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A book to cherish Before I entered teacher's college, my geography teacher told me that if I only ever read one book in my life, I had to make sure it was 'A Short History of Nearly Everything.' It took a long time before I stumbled upon it in a public library, but I deeply regret not having read it sooner. This is a book that I will read again and again, and will take as many opportunities as I can to work it into my lesson plans. This is the type of book that creates a spark in someone's heart, and makes them hunger for more. After 5 years of university, Bill Bryson inspires in me the same curiosity of the universe and our world as I had when I was a child. Hopefully, it will inspire my students too.
Date published: 2008-03-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from useful and interesting! Bill Bryson offers the basics on...well, the history of nearly everything. Much of the subject matter is dry and dense, but his ease of storytelling makes this a fairly easy read. Recommended for anyone who never took chemistry or world history in high school because they thought it was boring.
Date published: 2008-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful The first time I read this book, it was amazing. As if I had been existing in the world, not knowing anything of it. The way Mr. Bryson weaves together fact, theroy, and story is wonderful. I learned more from this book on the history of the world, then from any Classroom. I reread this book once a year because I love it and everytime I read it I learn a little more.
Date published: 2008-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Entertaining I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is essentially a history of science focusing on the people involved more so than the science itself. I have been wanting to read a book like this for a while to get a better understanding of the people who made great discoveries and the times they lived in. It is clear from reading this book that Bill Bryson is not a scientist and I found that often his explanations were clumsy and that he did not understand the science he was trying to explain, but for the most part this was a good thing. It allowed him to move through the scientific theories quickly to focus on the effects those theories had on the world and the people in it.
Date published: 2007-05-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great read, but a tad overbearing on the trivia. Bill Bryson's "A Short History Of Nearly Everything" was and is a great read, by a large margin worth the sticker price. However, you should be warned, this book is designed to make you want to research more and more into the topics he has covered, so don't be surprised if you find yourself taking radar images of the mid oceanic ridge after you have finished his geology section. A great primer for what you can learn on your own and how science classes should have been, the only true flaw in the story is that Bryson tends to be a bit biased in his works, dedicating more time to the topics that he is either experienced with or interested in, he also tends to lay on the trivia aspect a little thick when he is covering the history of the sciences. That said, it is a great book, i particularly found the later chapters "The restless ape" and "the mysterious biped" to be most enlightening. If you are trying to get into the science genre, this is the starting book for you.
Date published: 2007-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Science made fascinating! I had only read one of Bill Bryson's books (A Walk in the Woods) before picking this one up, but it was enough to make me want to read more. I've since recommended it to anyone who will listen! It is written with great humour, offers a wealth of information about every science topic under the sun, along with great anecdotes about the scientists and laypersons who made key discoveries through the ages. It has sent me on a path of wanting to discover more about science.
Date published: 2006-07-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very very cool This book was very interesting. At first I thought why would I really want to read this book, but a friend of mine recommended it for it's simple language and excellent flow from one topic to the next. All the things about science that I never really got in highschool made a lot of sense when I read this book. I had never taken chemistry and so a lot of what he was talking about was new and interesting for me like so many other things in it. Anything that I had previously knew or understood was still interesting because he brought his own viewpoints without really making it his opinion but just a retelling of history and the facts in an easy and likeable way. You should really give this book a shot because it's worth it.
Date published: 2006-07-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a glimpse of what school might have been like A wonderful, ambitious summary of the universe's history, and perhaps of greater interest, the quirky characters that have shaped natural history and our understanding of it. This was truly a breathing-of-life into what should be awe-inspiring, but is all too often presented in such a fashion as to appear fragmented, cold and sanitized. My regards to Mr. Bryson for yet another formidable work.
Date published: 2006-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved it. i absolutely loved this book. this is the science book that i wish we had to read back in highschool, because you actually enjoy learning about the world around us. informative and funny, clever and down-right interesting. there is an awful lot of information in this book, but i don't think that is a negative - i simply just re-read it to make sure i absorbed everything. and i enjoyed it just as much the second time 'round.
Date published: 2005-09-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from It tries to be interesting... A book that shows promise, but it just too much. Interesting and funny in parts, but I found myself skipping through a lot of information that I found boring (there is such thing as information overload). Definitely not a book you can pick up for hours at a time, but you can learn some interesting (and useless) information in it.
Date published: 2005-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Short Review of Nearly Everything I read a review for this book back in Jan. and I Was surprised at the reaction it was getting so I had to take a look at it myself. I figured seeing im only 17 it would be right over my head, boy was I wrong. The writer does an amazing job of breaking everything down into the smallest pieces and makes everything as understandable as it can get and most times comical too, just to keep it interesting.
Date published: 2005-05-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Uplifting Feel Good Book The book is a great 'feel good' read! Bill Bryson has a wonderful narrative tone that is simple, fun and informative to read. The book is great for the 'scientist' or 'spirtualist' in all of us, either way you come away with a sense of awe for our universe and all living systems within it! An uplifting & informative read! r.e
Date published: 2005-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mandatory read .... This book is really fantastic. I really believe it should be mandatory reading for anyone that I'm stuck beside on a long flight. It was educational and engrossing! I'm not scientifically inclined at all and was only tempted to purchase the book due to my love of Bryson's stuff. He answered a lot of the questions that I had and even some that I never thought of asking. Once again, this is a fantastic book!
Date published: 2004-05-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a must read I just finished this amazing book and have to read it again. It's a incredible that B.Bryson could cover so many interesting topics and link them all together in one not-so-short package.
Date published: 2004-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A lifesaver for the non-geeks For those of you interested in learning the complexities about how the universe and life as we know it came it exist, but are not prepared to accept self-induced strokes trying to read boring, mathematical accounts -- THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU! As an average consumer, knowing and caring little about science, this larger sized book was at first a turnoff. On a closer examination of the inside cover and reading various reviews, I decided to give it a try. The sporatic humourous relief Bryson sprinkles over the entire book is married to to the plain english approach to all topics covered. Highly recommend to all!
Date published: 2003-11-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Definitely wake up enlightened … The book gives you enough information in all areas of science as to not over inform you with complicated and in depth matters, but just enough to understand the sciences that populate our world. This is my first book of Bill Bryson, he’s very entertaining .. easy to follow along .. and writes for the everyday person. For those that wish to study science but not sure which to get into read this book .. you might find your calling.
Date published: 2003-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great, Read it! This honestly is a masterpiece, one of the best books I've read. Whether you've spent years in university or you never finished high school it'll be a book you enjoy immensly. Bill Bryson's ability to convey many of the most difficult questions we have in a clear, humorous, and interesting manner is unparalleled. It really is a must read.
Date published: 2003-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not Just for the Scientifically Inclined I love Bill Bryson and was excited to see a new book from him, even if it was a science book. He is incredible. I am not scientifically inclined at all, and yet, he managed to make me understand almost everything he wrote. His inner monologue, combined with good analogies, made even particle physics comprehensible. I highly reccomend this book.
Date published: 2003-06-15

– More About This Product –

A Short History Of Nearly Everything

by Bill Bryson

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 560 pages, 9.19 × 6.09 × 1.19 in

Published: September 14, 2004

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385660049

ISBN - 13: 9780385660044

Read from the Book

1: HOW TO BUILD A UNIVERSE No matter how hard you try you will never be able to grasp just how tiny, how spatially unassuming, is a proton. It is just way too small. A proton is an infinitesimal part of an atom, which is itself of course an insubstantial thing. Protons are so small that a little dib of ink like the dot on this i can hold something in the region of 500,000,000,000 of them, rather more than the number of seconds contained in half a million years. So protons are exceedingly microscopic, to say the very least. Now imagine if you can (and of course you can''t) shrinking one of those protons down to a billionth of its normal size into a space so small that it would make a proton look enormous. Now pack into that tiny, tiny space about an ounce of matter. Excellent. You are ready to start a universe. I''m assuming of course that you wish to build an inflationary universe. If you''d prefer instead to build a more old-fashioned, standard Big Bang universe, you''ll need additional materials. In fact, you will need to gather up everything there is -- every last mote and particle of matter between here and the edge of creation -- and squeeze it into a spot so infinitesimally compact that it has no dimensions at all. It is known as a singularity. In either case, get ready for a really big bang. Naturally, you will wish to retire to a safe place to observe the spectacle. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to retire to because outside the singularity there is no where. When th
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From the Publisher

One of the world’s most beloved and bestselling 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, travelling 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

BILL BRYSON''S Bestselling books include A Walk in the Woods, I’m a Stranger Here Myself, In A Sunburned Country, Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, Bill Bryson''s African Diary, and A Short History of Nearly Everything. He lives in Norfolk, England, with his wife and children.

From Our Editors

One of the world's most curious, beloved and bestselling writers takes his ultimate journey -- into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science attempts to answer, from understanding everything that has transpired since the Big Bang to the rise of civilization

Editorial Reviews

“Stylish [and] stunningly accurate prose. We learn what the material world is like from the smallest quark to the largest galaxy and at all the levels in between . . . brims with strange and amazing facts . . . destined to become a modern classic of science writing.”
—The New York Times

“Bryson has made a career writing hilarious travelogues, and in many ways his latest is more of the same, except that this time Bryson hikes through the world of science.”
—People

“Bryson is surprisingly precise, brilliantly eccentric and nicely eloquent . . . a gifted storyteller has dared to retell the world’s biggest story.”
—Seattle Times

“Hefty, highly researched and eminently readable.”
—Simon Winchester, The Globe and Mail

“All non-scientists (and probably many specialized scientists, too) can learn a great deal from his lucid and amiable explanations.”
—National Post

"Bryson is a terrific stylist. You can’t help but enjoy his writing, for its cheer and buoyancy, and for the frequent demonstration of his peculiar, engaging turn of mind.”
—Ottawa Citizen

“Wonderfully readable. It is, in the best sense, learned.”
—Winnipeg Free Press