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A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill…
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A Short History of Nearly Everything (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Bill Bryson

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15,047266128 (4.16)348
Member:bilboho
Title:A Short History of Nearly Everything
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:Broadway (2004), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 560 pages
Collections:Your library
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A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (2003)

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Showing 1-5 of 243 (next | show all)
"Welcome. And congratulations." These two opening sentences of A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson hooked me the minute I read them. I've had a special place on my bookshelf for A Short History of Nearly Everything for years. Ever since I was in the 4th grade when my teacher introduced me to this book, I have been fascinated by Bill Bryon's book. It is what lead to my fascination with science and helped spur me into reading even more books, some in a the non-fiction genre that I wouldn't have dreamed of reading before A Short History. Personal experience aside, A Short History really is a masterpiece of scientific writing. Bryson has done an absolutely wonderful job writing this book and it truly is a book that everyone should read.

The title of the book says it all, in a way. A Short History is the story of how we got to where we are today, not by looking at what empire made war with each other, but by what we have accomplished in science. In that sense, the book isn't really a history of everything, but it captures the entire history of science in one broad, grand stroke. The book covers the beginning of our planet and the birth of science all the way up to the very late 1900s. Bryson tackles all fields of science , from anthropology to quantum mechanics. There is very little he has left out of the book.

"There seemed to be a mystifying universal conspiracy among textbook authors to make certain the material they dealt with never strayed too near the realm of the mildly interesting and was always at least a long-distance phone call from the frankly interesting." - Bill Bryson

This quote from the book is one that I find very pertinent to the state of scientific writing that most people come across. Bryson does a really good job of avoiding this issue. He manages to present all the information shoved between the covers in a really interesting and amusing way. Yes, there is a lot of stuff in the book, but it never felt like it was too much or boring. In actuality, it was really fun to learn about the world around you and who was responsible for the life you are living today. The topics may not have been covered into the depth needed to say you are now an expert in a field, but in the end, this is a history book, not a college physics textbook.

It's that breadth of coverage of A Short History that really makes this book such joy to read. Its very rare that you get a chance to see such a large view of what humanity has accomplished, especially in the realm of science. Bryson was able to really paint a story of the achievements of humanity over the years.Through the writing, it's was easy to follow different events and their impact on things that sometimes don't even seem related at all. But it's also those random little facts about the different scientists or projects that give it the character and the quirk that keep things moving along.

A Short History of Nearly Everything is a masterpiece. It takes the most significant scientific achievements throughout history and combines it all into one book a mere 478 pages. It may sound like a lot, but those pages were some of the most intriguing I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It's kept at a level accessible for all, so don't be afraid if you really aren't into science. I've enjoyed the book for many years and I know that many others will be able to find joy in it as well. ( )
  Plyte | Jul 6, 2014 |
I purchased this book because I had heard the author's name here and there and because a quick glimpse at the text seemed to confirm the interesting title. It seemed like it would turn out to be a fun romp through the history of scientific discovery. But though the book provides a pleasant tour of how we know much of what we know, it may be the most maddening book I've ever read about the history of science, at least when it comes to what was actually discovered and by whom. This is because Mr. Bryson eschews a chronological discussion of who discovered what in favor of a chatty, round-about, and digressive overview in which he starts by noting some scientist's theory and then goes back in time, popping here and there, often discussing people who had little to no impact on the discovery of the truth, until he finally introduces his readers to a later scientist who seems to have proven the original theory. I say "seems to have proven" because Mr. Bryson appears loathe to actually state what the final scientist found with any specificity, leaving it to his readers to put two and two together or to look up the original idea and the final proof elsewhere. While pleasantly and entertainingly written, and a good way to learn some basic information about scientists and theories that merit further reading, it's a very frustrating way to actually learn anything with any specificity as to the underlying science. Popular science readers would be best-served by using this book merely as a stepping-off point to further reading, or by skipping this book entirely and instead reading Stephen Jay Gould's essays or the books of any number of other popular science authors who are more direct as to the discoveries and less rambling in their presentations. ( )
  tnilsson | Jun 30, 2014 |
That's an excellent popular science book. Bill Bryson is an amusing writer and brilliant story-teller, and this book is a perfect example. Slightly biased towards developments in chemistry and related industries, but nothing to complain about. Highly recommended. ( )
  amarcobio | Jun 22, 2014 |
I'm a huge huge Bill Bryson fan but I still approached this book with some trepidation. It seemed so very serious, how could anyone, even Bryson, make reading about science fun and interesting?

Well, somehow Bryson made a topic that usually bores me to sleep into a must read book. His stories and writing style just speak to me. When I pick up one of Brysons book I expect to be entertained. In [b:A Short History of Nearly Everything|21|A Short History of Nearly Everything|Bill Bryson|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1386925434s/21.jpg|2305997] not only was I entertained but I was taught hugely fascinating things about the world we live in. Bryson has made me more curious, interested and knowledgeable about subjects that I would never have touched with a 10 foot pole before.

Plus, I think this will give me a step up when it comes to pub quizzes! ( )
  sscarllet | May 30, 2014 |
This book was wonderful! As others have said, it is informative and entertaining, as well as thought-provoking. I am certain I will not remember even a small percentage of the facts but I believe I came away with a greater understanding of science, the universe, and all the mysteries we still have not solved. Fascinating stuff. Bryson has a talent for making fairly complex information accessible for the lay reader. I hope that he will come out with revised editions as years pass to keep us up to date on changes

This book was a big commitment in time and concentration but well worth the effort! ( )
  glade1 | May 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 243 (next | show all)
The more I read of ''A Short History of Nearly Everything,'' the more I was convinced that Bryson had achieved exactly what he'd set out to do, and, moreover, that he'd done it in stylish, efficient, colloquial and stunningly accurate prose.
 
"Una breve historia de casi todo" explica como ha evolucionado el mundo para acabar siendo lo que es hoy. Explica cualquier aspecto de nuestro universo, desde el más recóndito al más conocido.
added by Jaism94 | editBill Bryson
 
The book's underlying strength lies in the fact that Bryson knows what it's like to find science dull or inscrutable. Unlike scientists who turn their hand to popular writing, he can claim to have spent the vast majority of his life to date knowing very little about how the universe works.
 

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bryson, Billprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goddijn, ServaasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlek, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The physicist Leo Szilard once announced to his friend Hans Bethe that he was thinking of keeping a diary: 'I don't intend to publish. I am merely going to record the facts for the information of God.' ''Don't you think God knows the facts?" Bethe asked. 'Yes,' said Szilard. 'He knows the facts, but He does not know this version of the facts.' - Hans Christian von Baeyer, Taming the Atom.
Dedication
To Meghan and Chris. Welcome.
First words
No matter how hard you try you will never be able to grasp just how tiny, how spatially unassuming, is a proton.
Quotations
They're all in the same plane. They're all going around in the same direction. . . .It's perfect, you know. It's gorgeous. It's almost uncanny. - Astronomer Geoffrey Marcy describing the solar system
Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night; / God said, Let Newton be! and all was light. - Alexander Pope
A physicist is the atoms' way of thinking about atoms. - Anonymous
The history of any one part of the Earth, like the life of a soldier, consists of long periods of boredom and short periods of terror. - British geologist Derek V. Ager
The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming. - Freeman Dyson
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 076790818X, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:32 -0400)

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Presents a history of science and the physical world with interviews with leading scientists.

(summary from another edition)

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