8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A concise history of science,
This review is from: A Really Short History of Nearly Everything (Paperback)
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, Transworld Publishers, 2005, 624 ff.
The title of this book may lead you to expect something about the unification of the four forces of nature - what the scientists call the Grand Unifying Theory. In fact, the subject matter is much more general - and much more easily accessible - than that. In a book that is profusely illustrated on nearly every page Bryson takes us through the development of ideas about the natural world. He begins by discussing how cosmologists see the origin of the universe, then homing in on our solar system and then the Earth. Bryson then follows the natural progression into geology and the fundamentals of chemistry and atomic theory. The remaining half of the book is devoted to biology culminating in the origins of Man.
I am a scientist but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and there were many details I learnt for the first time. It reminded me of a classic text from many years ago called `Science for the Citizen' by Lancelot Hogben which inspired me into science when I was a schoolboy.
Some of the illustrations, which are mostly in colour, are there to improve the aesthetic reader appeal and tell us very little. But the majority convey some interesting or useful information. The publishers also produced a paperback edition of the book which is virtually devoid of illustrations in its nearly 700 pages but with identical text. If you can afford it, I would recommend you go for the illustrated version as the coloured pictures really do illuminate the text. Both editions have extensive Notes, Bibliography and an Index at the end of the book. If you have any interest at all in science, this is the most comprehensive and accessible account I have read.