Customer Reviews for

A Short History of Nearly Everything

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

21 out of 24 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

7 out of 19 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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  • 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 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 22, 2012

    T

    T

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  • Posted August 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A science text book for the rest of us.

    Bill Bryson's A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING is nothing if not succinct of title. The book is told at a dizzing pace from the moment of the big bang right through the rise of modern man with every concieveable scientific stop in between. What is amazing is that it truely does live up to its name in a little under 500 pages.

    The narrative is certainly much more entertaining then your typical high school science book. Unfortunatly Bryson is attempting to squeeze an eternity into a relativly small space (and he DOES pull it off) which often times makes all the information very difficult to digest. It is a mountain of information and its is as thorough as can be without tackling each subject within its own book. To put it mildly it is a lot to digest all at once.

    Despite the wealth of names, places, latin and the like that come at your like a wicked punch combination from a prized middle-weight fighter the book is intersting and informative nonetheless. You are bound to learn something you didn't before with each passing chapter. The myriad of sciences discussed is bound to peak your interests at some point or another.

    When you read the last page you sence the vastness and tininess of our world. Bryson composes the big picture beautifully. From the infinite bound of our universe to a singular point of our own existence, Bryson ties it all together in comprehensive easy to understand fashion. Bill Bryson is not a scientist but he may have interviewed every one important to the story of the universe and shares it all with us. Give it a read, the worse you could do is learn something.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2004

    Started off good, but....

    I'm still trudging through this book and I'm giving it 3 stars and not 2 because of the interesting quips and mini-stories within. This book started off great with the subject of the beginnings of the universe and the amazing sizes and distances of planets, galaxies, etc. Now, in the section I'm trying to get through, it's just 'this scientist did this, then this scientist discovered this, then this other scientist thought this, which lead this other scientist to come up with this theory...blah blah blah.' It's no longer a story, but reads more like a textbook now. I could've dug up my old biology and chemistry books for that.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2004

    On page 178...struggling

    I loved all of Bryson's other books. I am really struggling to get thru this one. Probably because after working all day my brain doesn't want to work more to read this book. Maybe I should try to read it in the morning when my mind is fresh. I want to try to finish it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2004

    A (very long) Short History....

    It took me nearly three months to read this book. That says a number of things, both about the book itself, as well as the reader. The subject matter is fascinating, and deserves a thorough discussion, as Bryson provides. He humanizes the natural history of our environment in a fun, interesting way. The problem comes with the assemblage of information. There is huge pile of factoids between the covers of this book. They are worth knowing, but I don't know if the effort required was justified. I was personally too stubborn to quit reading it, or possibly I kept looking for the storyline all the way to the bitter end. My most substantive complaint is that Bryson fails to provide a narrative string that ties the book together. The history of our planet is in fact a story. He nissed the opportunity to tell that story.

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    Posted May 18, 2011

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