Grumpus's Reviews > A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
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's review
Oct 12, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: audiobook
Recommended for: anyone wanting to know how it all began
Read in October, 2007

This is based upon the audio download from [].

Narrated by: Richard Matthews

Don’t let the 3 star rating mislead you. This was an awesome book and I’m certain others will think more highly of it. It is a great introduction for those not into the biography of the universe and the history of science. However, if you watch the Science Channel, History Channel, PBS, etc., then you’ll already know much of what’s covered. It is the true "Once upon a time. . ." story.

As someone with an interest in all things science, I was still impressed with the witty style of the writing and use of analogies to drive home various points. It’s a very entertaining listen and the narrator does an excellent job in reading it.

The most salient point of the book for me was the human paradox of how we are changing the world through our presence but at the same time how precarious our existence on it is. A favorite quote from the book for me is, “All life is one, is one of the most profound true statements there is.”

Think about this, for you to get where you are today, all of your ancestors had to survive long enough to find someone willing to pair up with. Not an easy task surviving disease, war, or just being eaten. One break in the chain, one moment sooner or later in the conception process anywhere along the line and you don’t exist. It’s a miracle you’re here. And yet you are despite the odds against it. Just when you think you were meant to be here, you have to remember we could all be wiped out by a meteor strike at any moment.

Humans have been apart of only 0.0001% of Earth’s history and yet we have been chosen. As the author states, “We are the least there is. We may be all there is. We are the living universe’s supreme achievement and its worst nightmare simultaneously.”

One last quote to end with comes from Edward O. Wilson in his book, The Diversity of Live, “One planet, one experiment."
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05/10/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Chris Waterguy So, why the 3 stars?

Grumpus 3 stars means I liked it but could not give it 4 stars that means I really liked it. Maybe because I'm fairly well versed in science and knew much of what was here is part of the reason. Still, I think it an awesome book for non-science readers.

Chris Waterguy Fair enough. I thought it was very well written, and enjoyable, and serves a great purpose (improving public understanding of science), so I gave it 4.

It contained a surprising number of errors though - I counted about 8 - should have written them down, but I remember that he referred to the platypus and echidna as marsupials, when they're actually monotremes. So no chance of 5 stars.

Kenny Bell PLEASE READ* Do you remember when he talked about stromatolites-the ancient rock structure dated from 3.5 billion years ago, made from cynobacteria-blue/green algae. He says the scientist agree that these were the first origins of life. My question is how do scientist know that the rock is the object that is 3.5 billion yrs old and not the organisms? Because the organisms could just have appeared when man first appeared.(Adam and Eve)

Chris Waterguy Kenny - I'd think that the rock *formed* very close to the time that the organisms lived, as that's how fossils form.

I'd suggest asking on a science forum if you're interested in a thorough answer. is good.

(That is unless someone else here wants to tackle it.)

Drtaxsacto I think your rating is about right - a very entertaining and somewhat informative survey.

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