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Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
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Origin Story: A Big History of Everything

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  2,176 ratings  ·  257 reviews
** A 2018 GoodReads Choice Award Nominee in the History & Biography category**

A captivating history of the universe -- from before the dawn of time through the far reaches of the distant future.

Most historians study the smallest slivers of time, emphasizing specific dates, individuals, and documents. But what would it look like to study the whole of history, from the b
Hardcover, 357 pages
Published May 22nd 2018 by Little, Brown and Company
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Anu From my perspective:
Short history: This book focused a lot more on evolution of modern science and had some great stories about major inventions and…more
From my perspective:
Short history: This book focused a lot more on evolution of modern science and had some great stories about major inventions and discoveries over the last 250 years in great detail. I felt like the early cosmology aspects were given short shrift. Bryson can be engaging but also a bit tedious.
Sapiens: Focuses a lot more on the "why" of critical moments in humanity's evolution rather than just an overall narrative. Also, very heavy anthropological basis. Harari is brilliant and his analytical genius shines in this book and the ones thereafter
Origin: Does the best job of unifying various aspects of knowledge from cosmology to modern science to anthropology. I enjoyed the analysis of "threshold moments", right from the big bang, creation of stars, galaxies, planets, evolution of life, the breakneck evolution over the past 200 years and a little peek into potential futures. Christian's writing style is not the most interesting but boy, does his content make up for it!

Other books in the same category that I enjoyed were "Our Mathematical Universe" by Max Tegmark (takes a more numerical and data-analysis based approach, with precision cosmology) and "What a wonderful world" by Marcus Chown (very accessible to young adults as well + a wonderfully witty writing style) (less)

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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,176 ratings  ·  257 reviews

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Bill Gates
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
We all have an origin story. In some societies, they manifest as creation myths. In others, they look more like history textbooks. For example, as a kid in the United States, I grew up learning about the group of rebels who stood up to their British overlords and founded our country. It’s human nature to be curious about where we come from, and origin stories unite people through a common history and shared sense of purpose.

But what if all of humanity shared an origin story? What would that stor
J.L.   Sutton
Dec 08, 2018 rated it liked it
David Christian's Origin Story: A Big History of Everything was my first go at 'big history' (13.8 billion years of it). Christian looked at threshold events the way futurists look at trends and singularities. These thresholds were like transitional mile markers differentiating one order (perhaps by a near extinction event) from the next. Christian looked at the numerous 'Goldilocks' conditions which allowed life to exist as it does today. Christian also brought origins myths into this history, ...more
Emma Sea
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
loved this. Had the most wonderful sense of the sublime while reading it; I'm tiny and unimportant and my specific life could not matter less. Christian's framing of 21st-century power in terms of cell structures has made me deal better with my anxiety about how fucked the world is, and my fears for humanity in the near future.

Excellent writing, about the only topic there is, really.
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
The first thing I have done after finishing the book is to unlike Bill Gates' review (4/5) of it. I also suspect if he reviewed and recommended this not because he personally found it great, but because he wanted others to read it as a good, lucid introductory book on Big History.
The first half of the book is a poor cousin of "Cosmos" or "A Short history of Nearly Everything". It deals with the origin of the universe to the origin of human beings. The book has more information than insights and
This was good, definitely good but just so.
Felt more of a concoction of already familiar works of some of the famous historians, scientists, biologists and anthropologists.
Was hoping for something more insightful...
Amir H
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: in-english
این کتاب که فکر کنم هنوز به فارسی ترجمه نشده و سال گذشته نوشته شده به مرور تاریخ زمین و بشر از ابتدا تا اکنون پرداخته. مسلما قسمت های زیادی وجود داره که نویسنده تنها یکی از نظریه های موجود رو در نظر گرفته و از بحث در مورد سایر نظریه ها به هر دلیلی چشم پوشی کرده. این قسمت ها مخصوصا در اوایل کتاب در ذوق می زند.

اما همه چیز بعد از آخرین عصر یخبندان که ده هزار سال پیش تمام شده به شدت جذاب میشه. همچنین به واسطه مستندات باستان شناس ها مباحث مرتبط در این قسمت قابل قبول تر و دل نشین تر شدند.

مهمترین عامل
Susan in NC
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I want to read more good nonfiction, and came across this intriguing title - it fit the bill nicely, giving me a new cautiously optimistic outlook and taking my mind off of the dreadful news headlines for a bit.

First of all, I really enjoyed the dry humor and interesting observations of the author. He uses the term Goldilocks to refer to the just right evolutionary conditions planet Earth possessed which allowed life to develop. The following passage is typical of his engaging style, in which he
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Multidisciplinary look at the modern origin story of humankind. It begins with the big bang (astrophysics, quantum mechanics, etc.) and talks about star formation and planet formation. Then it goes on to discuss the history of earth and of life on earth (biology, chemistry, geology, etc.), all the way through present times (economics, history, sociology, etc.). It finishes up by looking at possible futures for us and the universe as a whole.

I don't normally get as engaged with non-fiction books,
Caleb Masters
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderful and relatively compact history book that does its best to tell the history of EVERYTHING, from the big bang to what the future may hold for us and our universe. Christian highlights various "thresholds" that our universe and then our species crossed to take history to its next big level. I admire his ability to synthesize information and present it in an easy digestible package for the reader. Fans of Harari's "Sapiens" and Tyson's "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry" will find a lot ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'll be honest--it was a little difficult to concentrate on this as one of my summer selections, but I'm glad I did. The author is an engaging writer and I found myself carried along once I started. History and science are fascinating. Glad I picked it up.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, well written, & full of information that you probably don’t know, but should. Makes you think, wonder, & want to learn more.
Said AlMaskery
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science, history
A good topic, but written as an essay which makes it difficult to follow up. The introduction though was really nice.
Ron Quartel
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Scary stuff. Really scary, and important, and informational.

This is science that everyone needs to understand. If you follow creationist theories, just skip over the bits on evolution. There is still some good information in here that won't go against your beliefs.
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
excellent book that condenses the entire knowledge on universe into a delightful read
Lis Carey
Every culture and tradition has had its origin story, its understanding of how the world came to be as they knew it, which formed the basis for their further understanding of how to live, interact with others, get food, make clothes. Our origin stories are the basis of how we understand everything.

Now, in the early 21st century, we know far more about the origin of the universe, our sun, our planet, and life on Earth. We live in a society of unparalleled complexity, and in the last two hundred y
Angelique Simonsen
This is one that makes you think especially the last chapters
Sarah (WorldOfWonders)
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I needed this book in my life! I knew most of it already, but to read the entire story as a whole was terrific!
Martin Smrz
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Especially the history of Earth is delivered in very cohesive and clear way.
The one star down is for a bit repetitive covering of industrial era.
Otherwise this should be a history book in school to understand the history of our planet.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable read! Easy to follow, informative, and dense without being overwhelming.
Nancy Ellis
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having read Dr. Christian's previous text on Big History, Maps of Time, as well as having studied his course on Big History produced by The Great Courses (previously known as The Teaching Company), I found this an enjoyable refresher. It is a more condensed version of Big History than the massive Maps of Time and is an excellent introduction to whet the appetite of potential students. Anyone who knows me is aware of my tendency towards OCD behavior in reading, in that I am obsessive about readin ...more
Rajesh Goradia
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Origin Story is a great summary of David Christian's Big History Project - a field of study that integrates concepts from diverse silos of knowledge in order to explain the rising complexity in the universe – the pinnacle of which is represented by the human race.

Through this story we come to terms with our chance existence, despite the law of entropy which predicts that disorder of a closed system should only increase. Each threshold – where something new emerges – requires more energy and
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting. Fulfilled its purpose very well. I wish it had been more about social systems but that wasn’t the goal of the book, just my personal preference and (incorrect) assumption that it would include more of that lens. Covered a tremendous amount of information with excellence.
Teo 2050
<7.5h @ 1.7x. Contents:
(view spoiler)
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
History bored me as a child. Who wants to know about kings and wars and dates? As I grew older, I realized that knowing how we got to today is a key part of understanding today as well as future. In Origin story, Christian offers a solid, all-encompassing scaffolding for everything we know as a species today. This book touched me deeply in offering a moment of complete AWE at how complex, vast and interconnected everything in the universe is. Magnum opus extraordinaire!

The book narrates big his
Sumit Gouthaman
This book is obviously a remarkable effort. It attempts to capture "Big History" right from the moment of the Big Bang until the present. Then, it attempts to give a glimpse of the future as the universe tumbles towards its end as we know it.

However, the main reason I did not enjoy this (as much as I wanted to), was because this feels too similar to a lot of books I've already read.

If you are someone who has already read these books:

1. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
2. Sapien
Ανδρέας Μιχαηλίδης
I have read quite a few histories and even translated a few, especially when it comes to the origin and evolution of the universe. Big Histories or Histories of Everything are in truth nothing new, although it seems they are going through a sort of re-emergence, usually ending with informed guesses on humanity's future.

It seems the goal is to put forward the idea of a unified human race (or at least, essential history thereof), the likes of which is depicted and will eventually be established in
Dan Connors
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
I love reading about the big picture and where things come from. It gives you an appreciation for what we have now and where we're going. I've always wondered how people can be so sure what existed before they were born. Without personal experience, everything is a guess, and who's to say we didn't all get beamed down here by an alien race?
This book does not disappoint. It goes as far back as science dares to go and gives a step-by-step recounting of the best guesses out there about how things
Vladimir Stozhkov
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: popular-science
I was fascinated by a soaring manner of the author to explain complex concepts in simple terms. The book covers many topics belonging to the humankind's origin story starting with the big bang and ending with future challenges such as scarcity of energy resources and others. I really liked the ideas encompassing subsistence of all complex structures in the universe, entropy taxing, trophic strata of energy consumption, etc. I have never known about such a general view on a composition of the uni ...more
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read a recommendation for this book by Bill Gates and was lucky enough to get a copy quickly from the library. It was slow going at first as there was so much scientific information, much of which was not known when I was in school back in the 50s and 60s. However, in spite of the technological challenges, Christian's writing is engaging enough to keep the reader hanging in there. Proudly finished it a day before it is due back and where 44 people have it on their hold lists and are anxiously ...more
Tarek Amer
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
-The Big Bang created the Universe 13.8 billion years ago, the first of a series of key events in our history.
-The appearance of stars 12 billion years ago and the way they die were important steps forward for the universe.
-The earth was formed by the accumulation of debris about 4.5 billion years ago.
-Earth had the right conditions to allow life to flourish.
-Photosynthesis was an energy bonanza for early, single-celled life that helped spark a biological revolution.
-Evolution and the extinctio
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POBL Nonfiction B...: March Book Discussion - Origin Story 1 1 Jan 02, 2019 04:29PM  
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David Gilbert Christian is an Anglo-American historian and scholar of Russian history notable for creating and spearheading an interdisciplinary approach known as Big History. He grew up in Africa and in England, where he earned his B.A. from Oxford University, an M.A. in Russian history from the University of Western Ontario, and a Ph.D. in 19th century Russian history from Oxford University in 1 ...more
“Like human lovers, electrons are unpredictable, fickle, and always open to better offers.” 3 likes
“Nevertheless, the first states were a new phenomenon in human history. They all assumed the right to mobilize wealth from farming communities, towns, and cities in return for some degree of protection. As the English political theorist Thomas Hobbes wrote in Leviathan (1651), the right to distribute resources “belongeth in all kinds of Common-wealth, to the Soveraign power. For where there is no Common-wealth, there is… a perpetual warre of every man against his neighbor.” Traditional elites owed their power, in part, to the intrinsic weakness and isolation of traditional farming communities.” 0 likes
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