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A Short History of Nearly Everything Hardcover – Unabridged, May 6, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 7,903 ratings

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

From primordial nothingness to this very moment, A Short History of Nearly Everything reports what happened and how humans figured it out. To accomplish this daunting literary task, Bill Bryson uses hundreds of sources, from popular science books to interviews with luminaries in various fields. His aim is to help people like him, who rejected stale school textbooks and dry explanations, to appreciate how we have used science to understand the smallest particles and the unimaginably vast expanses of space. With his distinctive prose style and wit, Bryson succeeds admirably. Though A Short History clocks in at a daunting 500-plus pages and covers the same material as every science book before it, it reads something like a particularly detailed novel (albeit without a plot). Each longish chapter is devoted to a topic like the age of our planet or how cells work, and these chapters are grouped into larger sections such as "The Size of the Earth" and "Life Itself." Bryson chats with experts like Richard Fortey (author of Life and Trilobite) and these interviews are charming. But it's when Bryson dives into some of science's best and most embarrassing fights--Cope vs. Marsh, Conway Morris vs. Gould--that he finds literary gold. --Therese Littleton

From Publishers Weekly

As the title suggests, bestselling author Bryson (In a Sunburned Country) sets out to put his irrepressible stamp on all things under the sun. As he states at the outset, this is a book about life, the universe and everything, from the Big Bang to the ascendancy of Homo sapiens. "This is a book about how it happened," the author writes. "In particular how we went from there being nothing at all to there being something, and then how a little of that something turned into us, and also what happened in between and since." What follows is a brick of a volume summarizing moments both great and curious in the history of science, covering already well-trod territory in the fields of cosmology, astronomy, paleontology, geology, chemistry, physics and so on. Bryson relies on some of the best material in the history of science to have come out in recent years. This is great for Bryson fans, who can encounter this material in its barest essence with the bonus of having it served up in Bryson's distinctive voice. But readers in the field will already have studied this information more in-depth in the originals and may find themselves questioning the point of a breakneck tour of the sciences that contributes nothing novel. Nevertheless, to read Bryson is to travel with a memoirist gifted with wry observation and keen insight that shed new light on things we mistake for commonplace. To accompany the author as he travels with the likes of Charles Darwin on the Beagle, Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton is a trip worth taking for most readers.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product details

  • Publisher : Crown; 1st edition (May 6, 2003)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 560 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0767908171
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0767908177
  • Item Weight : 1.8 pounds
  • Dimensions : 6.4 x 1.75 x 9.55 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 7,903 ratings

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
7,903 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on March 18, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on December 1, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on February 10, 2017
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Top reviews from other countries

williamcani
5.0 out of 5 stars Bryson should rewrite all textbooks in the curriculum - the ideal non-fiction balance: informative, interesting, amusing!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 10, 2017
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61 people found this helpful
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David Roberts
2.0 out of 5 stars Fast food of the mind.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 25, 2019
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Crusty
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for everyone, everywhere
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 2, 2017
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Karl Strobl
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps one of the best popular science books (if that was the intention), and entertaining too
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 3, 2017
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Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars This is what high school should be like
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 28, 2018
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