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A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly Everything

4.3 389
by Bill Bryson

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ISBN-10: 0552151742

ISBN-13: 9780552151740

Pub. Date: 06/01/2004

Publisher: Gardners Books

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


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, 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.

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Gardners Books
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Table of Contents


1. How to Build a Universe
2. Welcome to the Solar System
3. The Reverend Evans's Universe

4. The Measure of Things
5. The Stone-Breakers
6. Science Red in Tooth and Claw
7. Elemental Matters

8. Einstein's Universe
9. The Might Atom
10. Getting the Lead Out
11. Muster Mark's Quarks
12. The Earth Moves

13. Bang!
14. The Fire Below
15. Dangerous Beauty

16. Lonely Planet
17. Into the Troposphere
18. The Bounding Main
19. The Rise of Live
20. Small World
21. Life Goes On
22. Good-bye to All That
23. The Richness of Being
24. Cells
25. Darwin's Singular Notion
26. The Stuff of Life

27. Ice Time
28. The Mysterious Biped
29. The Restless Ape
30. Good-bye


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A Short History of Nearly Everything 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 390 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
n00dlejester More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
DashaV More than 1 year ago
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"!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
scubasteve111 More than 1 year ago
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.
Father_of_5_Boys More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
AEC More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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?
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really like Bill Bryson, and I was really happy when I heard he had a new book coming out. Unlike his previous books, I found this one very easy to put down and forget about. Science is difficult to write about, and I think Bryson should stick to his travel books. It is the slowest book I have read in quite sometime.
Anonymous 5 hours ago
Bryson has written the best book ever .
Rarest_Pepe More than 1 year ago
Bill Bryson, a best-selling American author, well known for his humorous books about the English language, science, and travel, set out on a journey to explain science in the way that school textbooks were never able to do; entertain while educating the average person in a relevant, interesting manner. Bryson’s book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, encapsulates his journey into 560 pages worth of well thought out, casual text that, at times, is akin to the style of writing in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This casual style of writing brings about a comprehensive and engaging edge to modern day science and the history that helped shape it. The facts that compile this book are presented in a way that makes them easily understood by people who have little to no background in science, who will most likely gain a deep interest in the field and be inspired to seek out more information after reading such a well written and amusing title. However, as nothing can be entirely perfect, there are numerous factual errors that can not be ignored. As it seems to be a common theme among Bryson’s books, there are facts that have been misrepresented and misinterpreted which could have potentially been avoided. It would be expected for editors to check the accuracy of the information in the book, though it is understandable that this would be very difficult to do for a text of this size and scope even when several people are checking every fact’s credibility, and when the author himself is not a scientist. Bryson only has an interest in science, which may have contributed to the errors he made. Furthermore, it should be noted that even though the book is very well written and interesting, there are a few areas that feel dull in comparison to the majority of areas that shine with the light of pure charisma.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its really interesting. Specially about the humans.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining and insightful
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although lenghty, it is written clearly and in lay terms creating an updated, modern reference to existence
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bryson has a good sense of humor that makes the book easier to read. He goes more in-depth into those boring science classes you had to suffer through in middle school and gives you this information in a series of events that gives you a good understanding of the short history of nearly  everything. The book is very informative but slightly out of date considering that Pluto is no longer considered a planet. However with the slight misinformation, i'd highly recommend reading this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book had me hooked from the moment I picked it up to the moment i set it down. I would recomend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about science in a fun and easy way. I learned  everything from quarks to seacows and i believe I would be able to hold a conversation with a science professor on these topics. All in all I would honestly read this book again and I have already given the book to my mom to read.(Hunter J) 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kinda lost but good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was amasing XD.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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