Even though I've never read any of his other books, it seemed kind of unusual that Bill Bryson wrote A Short History of Nearly Everything, a book about the sciences, because I thought it was a rather different subject from what he usually writes. At the beginning of the book, though, Bryson explains that the reason he wrote the book was because he realized how little he knew about his home planet. He, therefore, started doing research so that he could write a book that explained enough about the sciences to be educational but that was not so in-depth or filled with jargon that it wouldn't be easily accessible. As an average person who doesn't work in a scientific field, I enjoyed his final product.
As the book's title implies, beginning with the Big Bang, Bryson covers a broad range of sciences and scientific
history. To various extents, he covers topics as diverse as the
forming of the universe, the make-up of Earth, atoms, gravity,
weather, cells, DNA, evolution, fossils, and extinction. However,
this isn't just a textbook to discuss the facts associated with these
topics. While discussing these topics, Bryson also tells stories of
the people who made the discoveries. Some of these stories are about
famous people you know, such as Isaac Newton, but some are about more
obscure people who were probably never discussed in any of your
science classes. The stories are often interesting, some of them
revealing eccentricities of the people involved in our scientific
I think Bryson put a lot of time and effort into learning more about our
planet. We are lucky that he shared the fruits of his labors with us because his book is an educational and entertaining experience.