(My Rating 5/5)
Let me start by saying that at the time of writing this review I have not finished the entire book. I was in the mood to read non-fiction and something science-y and this has been on my To-Read list for some time, after my father bought it. But around 30% in, I was suddenly yearning for some fiction. I will return to it soon, especially since I think it is a very good book.
It is quite an ambitious undertaking, yet Bill Bryson has managed to pull it off rather well. I am left quite speechless when I consider the amount of research that must have gone into writing this – how many books, journals, interviews, discussions – it is all quite mind-boggling. (The Notes and Bibliography together are nearly 100 pages long!) And he isn’t even a scientist!
What Bryson has achieved with this book is to explain, in as simple terms as possible, all the significant discoveries that have ever been made regarding the very existence of human beings and the universe we inhabit – how it all came about.
From atoms, the universe and the size of the earth to the breakthroughs made by scientists like Einstein and Darwin, he covers it all.
I had imagined that the book would read like a sort of ‘who did what and when’ list, but that isn’t so. Bryson digs a little deeper – into the personalities of these usually rather colourful people, the many accidental discoveries and the cases where credit was unfairly given to people who came along after the ‘actual’ discoveries were made.
And of course because it is Bill Bryson, he is able to find the humour in much of the material that his research has revealed, making this a riot of a read, besides being a very informative one.
For an enjoyable, concise and far-from-boring account of everything that has happened in the world of physics, geology, astronomy and every other science related to our existence, this is the book to read.
Are you a fan of Bill Bryson? Which is your favourite book of his?
I have only read one other so far, Notes From a Small Island, which was most enjoyable and you can read my review of that here. Most of his other books are on my To-Read list. I hope to get to them all soon!