Bang! The Complete History of the Universe takes the lay reader through pretty much everything they could want to know about basic cosmology and current theories of the universe, from less than a second after the Big Bang to billions of years into the future. Unlike a Brief History of Time, this one can be read and understood! Equally important, with a generous selection of pictures, it can be enjoyed.
Holding this book in your hand, it becomes immediately obvious that a lot of effort has gone into producing it, from the "lenticular explosion" on the front cover, to the first class illustrations heading each chapter. The photographs of planets, stars and galaxies are glorious, and there are even a few taken by the authors themselves.
Bang! is more informative than most coffee-table books on this subject, but it still manages to avoid getting too bogged down in the detail. It does a good job in covering a lot of ground and covering it well, but there have to be limits for any book of this kind, and while it touches on some of the underlying science such as wave-particle duality, it chooses not to expand on it.
All in all, I highly recommend this book to readers both with and without a scientific background. The lay reader will find it an accessible read and an awe-inspiring introduction to cosmology. The more advanced reader will appreciate the work for what it is, and marvel at the photography. For those looking for something more in-depth, I would recommend Simon Singh's Big Bang
, which is another excellent but very different kind of book.