Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson

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 history.

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.

1 comment:

  1. I loved a walk in the woods by him. I have read a lot of his books. They have all been excellent. Also enjoy books by Peter Jenkins who wrote "A Walk Across America" and others. There is another author who is part Indian who writes great travelogues as well, I think his name is like Bill Moon Something.