A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

81%

24 Critic Reviews

He provides loads of good information about history, science, and other topics, which he shares using a variety of teaching/writing styles, and I came away feeling like I learned a great deal.
-Blog Critics

Synopsis

One of the world’s most beloved writers and bestselling author of One Summer 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 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, travelling 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.

 

About Bill Bryson

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BILL BRYSON's best-selling books include A Walk in the Woods, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, In a Sunburned Country, A Short History of Nearly Everything (which earned him the 2004 Aventis Prize), The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, and At Home. He lives in England with his wife and children.































Author Residence: Norfolk, England































Author Hometown: Des Moines, IA
 
Published May 6, 2003 by Broadway Books. 560 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Science & Math, Humor & Entertainment, Nature & Wildlife. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for A Short History of Nearly Everything
All: 24 | Positive: 22 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 20 2010

Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects...He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead...

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Dec 07 2015

...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...

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Ed Regis on May 18 2003

...such lapses are rare, and ''A Short History of Nearly Everything'' seems destined to become a modern classic of science writing.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by John Waller on Jun 21 2003

It sounds very impressive. Not all readers will consider it sublime, but it's hard to imagine a better rough guide to science.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Sue Arnold on Mar 06 2009

Bryson's science for klutzes is still the most entertaining guide around. Palaeontology, the periodic table, particle physics - it's all here and delivered with the usual Bryson panache.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by John Waller on Jun 21 2003

It sounds very impressive. Not all readers will consider it sublime, but it's hard to imagine a better rough guide to science.

Read Full Review of A Short History of Nearly Eve... | See more reviews from Guardian

Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Scott Butki on Sep 03 2005

He provides loads of good information about history, science, and other topics, which he shares using a variety of teaching/writing styles, and I came away feeling like I learned a great deal.

Read Full Review of A Short History of Nearly Eve... | See more reviews from Blog Critics

Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Aubrey Bourgeois on Feb 02 2012

Starting with the creation of the cosmos and ending with life itself, this book truly does live up to its claim...As daunting as the title may seem, you will finish this book and feel like the friend who is full of information.

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Book Reporter

Above average
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on Jan 23 2011

While his travelogue humor is much more likely to elicit wild bouts of guffaws, Bryson speckles A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING with amusingly constructed sentences and an occasional observation on the absurdity of what he has singled out to share with us.

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Entertainment Weekly

Above average
Reviewed by NOAH ROBISCHON on May 09 2003

While the last few chapters move as slowly as the entry on glaciation, History elicits awe at the wonder, and stupidity, of science.

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About.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Bill Bryson on Jul 19 2015

At Home is full of history, neatly hung on the literary frame of a house tour. It's Bryson's house that we have the privilege of touring: a Victorian parsonage in a town where nothing much has happened for centuries...

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PopMatters

Good
Reviewed by Tara Taghizadeh on Oct 09 2003

Bryson’s efforts in A Short History of Nearly Everything (which took three years to write) are truly commendable, and the book deserves a spot on all bookshelves of diehard and loyal Bryson fans...Still, the author is at his best when his humor shines through...

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PopMatters

Good
Reviewed by Tara Taghizadeh on Oct 09 2003

Bryson’s efforts in A Short History of Nearly Everything (which took three years to write) are truly commendable, and the book deserves a spot on all bookshelves of diehard and loyal Bryson fans.

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EE Times

Good
Reviewed by Max Maxfield on Jan 15 2011

I tell you, if I were going to be exiled to a desert island and could take only 10 books with me, this one would be very close to the top of the list!

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EE Times

Good
Reviewed by Max Maxfield on Jan 15 2011

The amazing thing to me is how Bryson ties everything together in such an intelligent and easy-to-follow manner, leading the reader all the way from the creation of the universe to our current level of understanding...

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Reddevlin on Jul 19 2015

This book focuses on things that you’ll want to know. It may take a long time to read (it took me over a month), but it is definitely worth it. I’m reading it for the second time, and still there is more to learn.

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Fyrefly's Book Blog

Good
on Apr 23 2012

Since I don’t have the power to make this required reading for everyone, I am going to make it highly, highly recommended reading for everyone.

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Hope Chest Reviews

Good
on Jul 20 2015

Of course, there were some topics that I was able to appreciate more than others, but on the whole, Mr. Bryson has created a solid scientific history book that is very accessible to the average layman.

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My Books. My Life.

Good
Reviewed by Michelle on Jan 05 2011

This was actually my first Bill Bryson. Shocker, I know. But I’m hooked. I listened to the audio and I had so much fun learning that I found excuses to listen whenever I could.

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Stacked

Good
Reviewed by Kimberly F. on Jun 21 2011

One of the greatest joys of the audiobook experience was Bryson's narration. The book is full of humor, and Bryson's voice lets that shine through.

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World's Strongest Librarian

Good
Reviewed by Josh Hanagarne on Jan 08 2011

Bryson cites his sources, explores what he can, admits what he can’t, and it has resulted in a really cool book. I enjoyed every page. If you like science but are intimidated by it and aren’t sure where to jump in, A Short History of Nearly Everything might be for you.

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So Many Books, So Little Time

Excellent
Reviewed by Sophie on Sep 07 2010

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything is a brilliantly engaging book that contains a lifetime of school science lessons (that are actually interesting) in under 200 pages. I loved it.

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http://scienceblogs.com

Above average
Reviewed by John Dupuis on Nov 27 2010

Buy the darn book. It’s mostly pretty good and a surprisingly easy read with more positives than negatives. The illustrated version, which I don’t have but have glanced through in bookstores, is probably even easier to get through.

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The Well-Read Man

Below average
on Oct 25 2012

While you will find Short History entertaining, especially when read in slow chunks over several weeks, you would be hard pressed to identify it as a history of nearly everything, when it lacks nearly everything that really counts in a history of life.

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88%

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Nitya 5 Sep 2013

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