A Short History of Nearly Everything (B. Bryson)

What a fun book to read! Mr. Bryson succeeds in the almost impossible: he writes a book that both explains science and history of science in context, jumping randomly from one topic to another based on personal relationships between the main actors, and succeeding in reconstructing pretty much all there is to know about modern science.

What a kick. I followed the book page for page, amused at the links between the scientists and benefactors, seeing how one discipline would gain from the loss of the other; how fashions drive the pursuit of knowledge; how progress in one area facilitates progress in another.

Best of all: the text is written in an amusing tone, rich in humor, affable. None of the dry recollection of the history and practice of science that is so typical of other tomes. None of the heroic immortalization of the grand masters of science that characterizes school literature.

Mr. Brysons characters are all a bit bumbly. They are intent on finding the new, but at the same time full of their own foibles, and we start liking them because of their ability to reach beyond their level of incompetence. I find that much more elevating than being confronted with a Sir Isaac Newton that pooped marble, to paraphrase ‘Amadeus’.

i wished I could have read the Short History of Nearly Everything before having been educated on science. I think I would find the topic more interesting and exciting.

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