Customer Reviews for

A Short History of Nearly Everything

Average Rating 4.5
( 380 )
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(232)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

20 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

One to savor

This book has been sitting on my bedside for two months, and it has NOT been easy folks, and I mean that in the very best way possible. I am savoring this book chapter by chapter, and it has been an exercise in restraint.

Mr. Bryson has accomplished the goal he laid...
This book has been sitting on my bedside for two months, and it has NOT been easy folks, and I mean that in the very best way possible. I am savoring this book chapter by chapter, and it has been an exercise in restraint.

Mr. Bryson has accomplished the goal he laid out for himself (as described in the introduction) brilliantly. He realized that he knew very little about the physical world he lived in, and attributed this to the fact that scientific texts are rarely the kind of read that a layman would term "gripping". He set about researching the history of the various physical sciences -- geology, particle physics, etc., and then filled this book with the fascinating stories behind everything from the invention of rubber to plate tectonics to Einsteins relativity theory.

Reading this book is like tucking into a deliciously rich dessert, and I am savoring every page. I recommend it highly, and especially to anyone looking for a book to read while traveling as it would be a thoroughly absorbing way to while away the time.

posted by DearReader on July 14, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

ABRIDGED? Forget It!

My wife and I love Bill Bryson's books and have listened to most of them on tape while driving. We looked forward to getting A Short History of Neary Everything, but since it is ABRIDGED, we are not going to buy it. We hate books that are chopped up. Sorry Bill, we want...
My wife and I love Bill Bryson's books and have listened to most of them on tape while driving. We looked forward to getting A Short History of Neary Everything, but since it is ABRIDGED, we are not going to buy it. We hate books that are chopped up. Sorry Bill, we want the whole thing or nothing.

posted by Anonymous on May 18, 2003

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  • Posted July 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    One to savor

    This book has been sitting on my bedside for two months, and it has NOT been easy folks, and I mean that in the very best way possible. I am savoring this book chapter by chapter, and it has been an exercise in restraint.

    Mr. Bryson has accomplished the goal he laid out for himself (as described in the introduction) brilliantly. He realized that he knew very little about the physical world he lived in, and attributed this to the fact that scientific texts are rarely the kind of read that a layman would term "gripping". He set about researching the history of the various physical sciences -- geology, particle physics, etc., and then filled this book with the fascinating stories behind everything from the invention of rubber to plate tectonics to Einsteins relativity theory.

    Reading this book is like tucking into a deliciously rich dessert, and I am savoring every page. I recommend it highly, and especially to anyone looking for a book to read while traveling as it would be a thoroughly absorbing way to while away the time.

    20 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2008

    I have read this book many, many times!

    I love Bill Bryson books. My love for Bryson's clever and engaging writing style all started with A Short History of Nearly Everything. I picked this book up one day with no real intention to read it cover to cover 'it was purchased for my husband and was lying around our house'. After a chapter, I was hooked! I love this book and have recommended it to others, who also were delighted with it. I have read this book cover to cover at least 3 times. A Short History of Nearly Everything is an informative and interesting look at our world. If you like science (or reading in general), then I recommend this book. Bill Bryson presents information in a way that makes it fun to learn. It helps that Bryson is just plain funny. This book presents everything in a way that makes it donwright fun to read. As a side note, I also love A Walk in the Woods and In a Sunburned Country, also by Bill Bryson. I find myself a but sad when I come to the end of a Bill Bryson book because I enjoy reading them so much 'I never want the book to end!'. My solution is to run out and by something else he has written. Never have I enjoyed reading so much!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Amusing and Informative

    I haven't much to say about this book, except that it's very fun to read while providing some very memorable anecdotes. The book literally tries to cover the history of everything, focusing mainly on science and social advances. Bryson wrote the book making it a point to sound as animated as possible, since this could be pretty dry material given the topic. And he does a great job of engaging the reader, using hilarious anecdotes and keeping the style lighthearted.

    I found it very amusing to go through, and very informative. Some parts were more entertaining than others, but that should be a given in a book like this. If you're a fan of science, learning, or dry humor, then this is a good choice for you.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2003

    ABRIDGED? Forget It!

    My wife and I love Bill Bryson's books and have listened to most of them on tape while driving. We looked forward to getting A Short History of Neary Everything, but since it is ABRIDGED, we are not going to buy it. We hate books that are chopped up. Sorry Bill, we want the whole thing or nothing.

    5 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2012

    Informative and Interesting

    Excellent job of converting complex concepts into examples that can be grasped by most people. Potentially boring explanations come alive to help the reader understand some of the great mysteries of life.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2010

    A Review of A Short History of Nearly Everything

    In this book,the author covers everything from the beginnings of the universe to the beginnings of the human species. The topics covered in this book: The Universe,The Size or this Earth, Physics,the geography of the Earth,and the beginning of Humans and extiction of certain species. This particular book is different because Bryson uses humor to engage the reader. It is also an interesting book beacause he not only talks about the main topics discussed above but he gives a short biography of many of the scientists who were involved in important discoveries. This is any overall intriguing book because he covers such a variety of topics. This book should be used in schools to teach science.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A must Reading for "Buding Scientists"

    I wish I had read this when I was young--except it did not exist then! A fascinating read from beginning to end. Mr Bryson combines his wonderful wit with a detailed layperson approach to science and the people who were/are the scientists.

    This is an excellent starter from which to expand into a detailed examination of most anything. I bought copies for my 40's something sons only to have them tell me "Dad! where have you been? We read this years ago!"

    Parents with 7 to 10th grade children might have fun reading it together (do they still do this?). Us older people will learn about a lot that has changed since we were students. Great fun. It is nice to write a review about something that deserves it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    One of the easiest books to read! Will definitely make you feel a little smarter when you're done.

    In this book Bill Bryson put together all the scientific and historical facts and discoveries that conclude what we now know about Earth and its' processes. The author is a writer, not a scientist, and tries to explain things in a non-scientific terms for a similarly non-scientific audience. Having a scientific background I already knew most of the physics, astronomy, and chemistry aspects that the author introduces, but how I wish my professors made us read "A Short History of Nearly Everything" instead of "A Brief History of Time"! This book is a very easy read. All science requires a lot of math, which is why most people struggle with it. In this book, Bill Bryson has eliminated math completely and wrote a book on the history of our planet while incorporating scientific principals and humor instead. I've recommended the book to several friends who now claim they have a basic understanding of particle physics without "all that math crap"!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2012

    Must read

    This book is a must read for anyone interested in anything. It puts into plain language how man discovered the physical world. I plan to re-read it since there is so much information, it is hard to absord in one read. Loved it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    One of the greatest science books of the 2000's

    I was very pleased with this book, this book tells you how scientists know what they know. I'd highly recommend this book for any science buff.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2010

    Different than anything I've read before

    This was a really interesting book - different than anything I've ever read before. It was basically a history of science, which sounds kind of boring, but it's told through a series of anecdotes and stories about different scientists (many you've heard of before and many that you haven't). It got slow in a couple spots, but overall it was a good read. I would make it required reading for every high school science student - just because you learn so much about the science itself when you're in school but you don't really learn much about the people and the history of scientific discovery. Plus, the biggest thing I think this book shows is how little we really know. When you're a science student in school, you can get the impression that there's nothing left to discover - that we're so advanced and have so much technology - but we really have only touched the surface in our scientific knowledge in a lot of areas.

    I have a new appreciation for some of the great scientists in history too, like Newton and Haley - these guys were truly amazing. It's unfathomable how they came up with some of the things they did - and how right on target they were.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2010

    A must, very recommendable. A great gift...

    I'm reading it, and I'm agree the Boston Globe review: Its makes science interesting and funny...You can bet that many questions you have about the universe and the world will be answered here"

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    I'm smarter now

    I absolutely enjoyed this book. Mr. Bryson has a compelling way of making science enjoyable. I'm happy to have picked this up. I often refer back to it numerous times during the week.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Short History of Nearly Everything - Really Is

    I have read a number of Bill Bryson's books, but none of them were like this one. Missing was his usual humor but included were a set of facts that "knocked my socks off!" I am an engineer by training, but unfortunately never formally studied the Life Sciences. This book opened my eyes as to how complex, glorious and robust "life" is. As Bryson, to my knowledge, is not a scientist or engineer, he did a great job of reporting and documenting the sources of his assersions about the history of scientific thought. I thought it was very well researched and written from the viewpoint of the ordinary, but somewhat educated, person with much of the technical lingo set aside.

    I would rate this non-fiction work among the best books I have read in the last several years. I'll still continue to read Bryson's travel narratives, but his was a real treat as well.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2008

    The Audio Book needs a Table of Contents

    I have read the book and listened to it several times on audio book. I am a high school science teacher who would like to share this book with my class, but without a table of contents it is a tedious task to find the correct section on the CD to match the subject at hand. Can you help? Anyone?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2005

    THE CRITICS ARE RIGHT

    This book is unlike any other Bryson book publoshed. It is neither his recollections, encounters or observations -- rather, we are taken on an intellectual tour of the world of science. As a non-scientist who is helping my teenager study many of these topics in her 7th grade science class, I find this a wonderful alternative to the staid prose of the science textbook.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2013

    Bill Bryson is a wonderful writer, but Bill Bryson is not a sci

    Bill Bryson is a wonderful writer, but Bill Bryson is not a scientist. This book is enjoyable and educational if you know little or nothing about contemporary science, but leaves you feeling very unsatisfied if you are scientifically informed to a reasonable extent, because Bryson generally just takes the "default" commonly accepted academic positions and explains them nicely. He provides very little in the way of depth, scholarly debate, alternative theories, cutting edge ideas, etc. Being from the latter group, I found this book to be shallow and a bit boorish.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    Bryson takes a lot of complex historical and science facts and connects the dots making them very understandable. After reading the hardcopy, I purchased the nook version. It is a great way to spend extra time while you might be waiting for an appointment. There are so many good facts that I find it great to review them. I have shared many interesting items with my friends. Often the response is,"Really, I had no idea!" Bill Bryson's writing is often witty with lots of funny explanations to help make this subject really enjoyable to read about. This book is a must for anyone wanting to understand the fundamental workings of life on earth and mankind's place in it all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2013

    I loved it

    Although it was not short and it was not about everything, a ""medium-long history focused on science" does not sound promising. Having read this gives me background on lots of current issues.

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