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Summary

A Short History of Nearly Everything is Bill Bryson’s quest to find out everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. His challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us and see if there isn't some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science.

It's not so much about what we know, as about how we know what we know. How do we know what is in the centre of the Earth, or what a black hole is, or where the continents were 600 million years ago? How did anyone ever figure these things out?

On his travels through time and space, Bill Bryson takes us with him on the ultimate eye-opening journey and reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.

©2003 Bill Bryson (P)2003 Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about A Short History of Nearly Everything

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Be Warned : not the full book

This is not a criticism of the book which is excellent and extremely enjoyable. It is a review of this audio version.

I love hearing Mr. Bryson reading from his books so even though I have the print copy of this, I decided to get the audio version. Unfortunately it is a somewhat cut down version of the book. This is not mentioned anywhere in the book description, and as the image used is the cover of the original printed version I feel it is very misleading. I would estimate that this covers less than half of the original :-(

33 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Lighter work that the paper version

I tried reading this book, but frankly, struggled somewhat.

As for the audiobook, Bill Bryson?s (own) enthusiastic voice and light-hearted approach to unveiling a short history of scientific discoveries, held me entertained for many hours during my long commute to and from work.

What?s brilliant about the audiobook is that if you miss something or don?t quite grasp something first time around, then it?s easy to just skip back a little and listen again. I found Bryson?s language and style to be pitched just right ? neither too highbrow nor the opposite, such that I have already listened through twice.

One final note, being first published in 2003, there are aspects of the book that are already beginning to date ? or rather, there?s a noticeable absence of more up to date references here and there. For example, in his overview of particle physics, as a listener you?re dying to hear a witty Bryson quip about the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (which of course wasn?t around when he wrote the book). I?m left hoping that Bryson will update this history, but don?t be put off ? it?s still an excellent, mind blowing short history of nearly everything (scientific).

8 people found this helpful

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Abridged version - less than 1/3rd of the book!

I read the book when it came out but wanted to listen to it some purchased this through Audible. When the book finished after just a short time, less than 6 hours. I expected it to be longer than that.

On investigation there is another version of the audiobook which is over 18 hours long. Nowhere does this mention it is abridged until the final credits of the audiobook.

As this cost a credit, the same as the unabridged version, when I have now bought. Deceitfull is an apt word for this!

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Superb

Bill Brysons enthusiasm and wit permeate every page of this book. The awards and paudits it has received are well deserved. The audio book races along at a good pace and the narrator captures the dryness of Brysons humour.
The book seeks to explain, in an accessible way, how science got to where it is today, some of the false trails that were followed and what is still unknown. Bill Bryson starts from the standpoint of his own youthful wonder at how scientists could possibly know what they did. His book is a personal voyage of discovery - the viewpoint of an enthusiastic layperson.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Much abridged but still good

This book constantly blows my mind in all it's forms - each page read or listened to is packed with facts, lots of which I don't understand fully which possibly makes them more impressive. I prefer Bryson's narration to that of the unabridged but people who aren't keen on his reading style are catered for with the full version. This is my go to book for sleepless nights - the sheer amount of data will either teach you something or put you to sleep.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

WARNING: Seriously abridged!

Be very wary, this is not the full book, it is not even close, it is very abridged. There is no indication in the description or on the cover, which is misleadingly identical to that of the real book! This is a VERY brief history of nearly everything.

The full unabridged version is available from Audiable and is so,so much better. Don't make the mistake I made by getting the wrong version! Only getting 30% of such a great book just does not cut the mustard. Search again!

2 people found this helpful

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I just wish it was unabridged.

I really enjoyed this, the narration as well as the book itself was superb. I just wish it was unabridged.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

I love it

I have had this audiobook for several months and have listened to it many times. I personally do not understand the criticism some people have made of the book being boring etc. I have read the physical book also and think this is a very interesting work throughout...but then maybe that is just me and my love of trivia.

4 people found this helpful

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Great Listen!

Loved it! Such an interesting book.
I would recommend this to anyone who has a brain😄

1 person found this helpful

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If you have to only read one book ... this is it!

This book was a great listen and aptly named. I will retread. Doesn't lecture at you or condescend, just lays out information in a palatable manner. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • David S
  • 23-07-17

Abridged!

Nothing indicated this was abridged until the closing credits. My only disappointment. I had read this before and some of my favorite parts were missing.

23 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Bloodpickle
  • 17-01-19

Do not buy this is a short version, not full

Was really disappointed when I realized how much of the actual book was cut from this sham of an audio book

7 people found this helpful

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  • Carolyn
  • 23-01-12

If you only own one audio book, this is it!

This book was a little hard going as text but completely comes to life when read by Bill Bryson. I love it and have listened to it several times.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jeremy
  • 19-06-21

Bill Bryson is the Best

This isn’t bad for an abridged book, you can’t tell. Still, as a fan, I wish the unabridged was available in my region.

The book is so good it’s impossible not to want more of it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-01-21

Terribly boring

If you're looking for a good history book of the world you will be better served by E. H. Gombrich with his book: A little History of the world.

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  • Greg
  • 10-12-20

An Excellent Primer

This is a short listen that I will undoubtedly be returning to in the future. There's something to be said for an author's ability to summarize long periods of time and keep it engaging. Bryson has a wonderful delivery here. This can be used best a primer for delving into deeper subject matter, or as a means of brushing up on oft forgotten generalized facts.

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  • Layne
  • 12-08-20

Wtf soooo much is cut out

I am VERY disappointed as I didn't realize how much was is cut out of this version. It barely makes any sense anymore. I just want the full version.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 12-04-19

Engaging read

absurd amount of knowledge. condensed without losing any of the interesing bits. communicating in an easy way to understand.

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  • Louis-Philippe
  • 20-03-19

disapointing

i was expecting a lot more of out this book. not that interesting hor entertaining.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-01-19

Interesting but really tough to follow

Listened to this on my 1hr commutes. Lots of details with many names and dates, long sentences with above average vocabulary..i.e. words that the average person doesn't understand. Gave up after 2 chapters