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am 10. Februar 2014
Das Buch ist unterhaltsam und liest sich leicht, vermittelt aber trotzdem ein umfangreiches Wissen über viele Aspekte der Geschichte der modernen Naturwissenschaften
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am 17. September 2014
Fascinating facts and lots that I never knew about make it a very interesting and enlightening read, highly recommend it
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am 8. Februar 2013
Ich bin ein Liebhaber der Bücher "Down Under", "Notes from a small Island" und "Travels through Europe", leider fand ich diese Buch etwas zu trocken und habe nach der Hälfte aufgehört, obwohl es eine guter Ansammlung von Allgemeinwissen bietet.
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VINE-PRODUKTTESTERam 16. September 2004
The author writes very well, no doubt about that. If you like black humour, that is.
He promises to teach the reader all the things he did not learn in school, but is that true? What did I learn after reading it? Tons of names I have never heard before and probably won't again (certainly don't remember them even now) and tons of gossip.
And, he keeps to repeat himself about how really small an atom is or how really large the universe (sometimes for pages nothing more that metaphers for this).
Did I learn something? Yes, I did, but hardly worth the time for the book.
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am 25. Februar 2015
Jeder, der in seinem Leben mal eine gewisse Zeit Sport gemacht hat, kennt das Gefühl: Während man eine Übung zum tausendsten Mal macht, knirscht/knackt/springt etwas irgendwo im Körper, und man weiß mit absoluter Gewissheit: Irgendwas tief in mir drin hat sich grad radikal verändert.

Bill Brysons „A Short History of Nearly Everything“ macht das Gleiche.
Mit dem Geist des Lesers.
Ungefähr 20 mal.

Brysons Buch ist eine tour de force durch alle möglichen Wissenschaften und ihre Entstehungsgeschichte: Meteorologie, Biologie, Geologie, Physik, Astronomie und so weiter und so fort. Indem Bryson sich in jedem Feld an den historischen Entwicklungen ihrer Erkenntnisse entlang hangelt, kann man mitverfolgen und nachvollziehen, wie sich die einzelnen Wissenschaften entwickelt und entfaltet haben – und die grundlegendsten Erkenntnisse mitnehmen.

Das Ganze bleibt notwendig absolut oberflächlich und kursorisch. Bryson macht das mit einer wundervollen Einführung deutlich, in der er beschreibt, wie er kurz vor Drucklegung die Korrekturen eines Experten einarbeitet, den er interviewt hatte: Etliche Ungenauigkeiten und Fehler hatten sich aus der Sicht des Spezialisten eingeschlichen – und das war nur ein Interviewter auf einem Themenfeld in einem Buch mit Dutzenden Themen und zahllosen Interviewten auf 600 Seiten.

Aber wenn man dies weiß und akzeptiert, den Geist lockert und sich klarmacht, dass man selbst weiterlesen kann und muss, wenn einen die Details eines Themas interessieren, der wird mit einer Überblicksdarstellung belohnt, die einen immer wieder wie ein Kind staunen und wundern, teilweise auch verzweifeln lässt.

Was da im Kopf knirscht, sind die alten Gewissheiten, die zerbrechen.

Bryson kann packend und anschaulich erzählen und das macht den Hammer der Erkenntnis aus: Wenn er referiert, wie leer das Universum eigentlich ist, dann erinnert man sich, die Fakten hier und dort vielleicht schon mal gehört zu haben – aber nach Brysons Kapitel ist der Blick zum Himmel ein anderer als vorher. Wenn man über die Auslöschungswellen liest, die diesen Planeten immer wieder geleert haben und gleichzeitig vermittelt bekommt, von welch fragilem (und nebenbei völlig untypischen) Netz aus speziellen Rahmenbedingungen unser momentanes Überleben abhängig ist, wird man wirklich nachdenklich. Dass wir für 99,99% der Vorzeit keine archäologischen Funde haben, dass wir über den Mars mehr wissen als über den Meeresboden, dass die Bedrohung durch Vulkane und Himmelskörper enorm und nicht abwendbar ist, dass unsere Existenz von einem geradezu lächerlich unwahrscheinlichen Netz von Faktoren bedingt ist, dass wir über die Vorgänge im Inneren der Erde nichts wissen und so weiter … all das hat der interessierte Leser schon mal im Fernsehen, auf Deutschlandfunk oder im Netz zur Kenntnis genommen.

Aber Bryson macht es einem klar. Begreifbar. Nachvollziehbar.
Und das Wort, dass man am häufigsten denkt, ist „Alter ...“.

Und doch ist das Buch in keinster Weise deprimierend oder pessimistisch. Bryson bringt ein wundervolles Plädoyer dafür, sowohl unsere Fragilität und Unwahrscheinlichkeit, als auch unsere komplette Unwissenheit positiv zu deuten: Als Geschenk und Beginn einer großartigen Reise, auf der wir bisher praktisch noch überhaupt nichts erreicht haben – aber alles erreichen KÖNNEN, wenn wir es nur richtig anpacken. Es wendet sich gegen jede Hybris der Aufklärung, gegen jede teleologische Deutung der Evolution und bisherigen Zivilisation und fordert gleichzeitig auf, zu neuen Ufern aufzubrechen.

Ich habe glaube ich seit „Ismael“ vor 20 Jahren kein Buch mehr gelesen, das mich so direkt so bewegt hat. Das Knirschen im Kopf hat bis jetzt noch nicht aufgehört.

Und es ist ein gutes Gefühl.
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am 6. Dezember 2005
I was first acquainted with Bill Bryson through his works on the English language and various travelogue types of books. In these books he proved to be an entertaining writer, witty and interesting, with just the right amount of I'm-not-taking-myself-too-seriously attitude to make for genuinely pleasurable reading. Other books of his, 'Notes from a Small Island' and 'The Mother Tongue', are ones I return to again and again. His latest book, one of the longer ones (I was surprised, as most Bryson books rarely exceed 300 pages, and this one weighs in well past 500), is one likely to join those ranks.
Of course, a history of everything, even a SHORT history of NEARLY everything, has got to be fairly long. Bryson begins, logically enough, at the beginning, or at least the beginning as best science can determine. Bryson weaves the story of science together with a gentle description of the science involved - he looks not only at the earliest constructs of the universe (such as the background radiation) but also at those who discover the constructs (such as Penzias and Wilson).
A great example of the way Bryson weaves the history of science into the description of science, in a sense showing the way the world changes as our perceptions of how it exists change, is his description of the formulation, rejection, and final acceptance of the Pangaea theory. He looks at figures such as Wegener (the German meteorologist - 'weatherman', as Bryson describes him) who pushed forward the theory in the face of daunting scientific rejection that the continents did indeed move, and that similarities in flora and fauna, as well as rock formations and other geological and geographical aspects, can be traced back to a unified continent. Bryson with gentle humour discusses the attitudes of scientists, as they shifted not quite as slowly as the continents, towards accepting this theory, making gentle jabs along the way (Einstein even wrote a foreword to a book that was rather scathing toward the idea of plate tectonics - brilliance is no guarantee against being absolutely wrong).
Bryson traces the development of the universe and the world from the earliest universe to the formation of the planet, to the growing diversity of life forms to development of human beings and human society. Inspired by Natural History (the short history refers more to natural history than anything else), this traces the path to us and possible futures. Bryson juxtaposes the creation of the Principia by Isaac Newton with the extinction of the dodo bird - stating that the word contained divinity and felony in the nature of humanity, the same species that can rise to the heights of understanding in the universe can also, for no apparent reason, cause the extinction of hapless and harmless fellow creatures on earth. Are humans, in Bryson's words, 'inherently bad news for other living things'? He recounts many of the truly staggering follies of species-hunting, particularly in the nineteenth century, calling upon people to take far more care of the planet with which we have been entrusted, either through design or fate.
Bryson's take on things is innovative and his narrative is interesting, but there is a point to it, just as there is with most of his writing. He writes not merely to entertain, or to inform, but to persuade. Bryson is intrigued by science, having a joy that comes across the page of someone who essentially did not know or understand a lot of the background of science and how it worked in the world until recently, and now wants to share that joy with everyone! He definitely has points to argue - for starters, the need for open-mindedness, even among (perhaps particularly among) those who are supposed to have the open and searching intellects, the scientists themselves. He also wishes others to know more about science, professionals and laypersons, and more about our own origins as a people, both in terms of where we've come from, and how we've come to know about it.
This is a new version of his already-published text, this time with graphics, paintings, pictures, maps and other things that make the history come alive in new and interesting ways. This is a good revision, adding quite a bit to Bryson's already interesting text. Unique among Bryson's writing in many ways, this is in some ways a travelogue through geology, paleontology, cosmology and evolution. A fun and fascinating read!
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am 19. Dezember 2008
Reading this book is surely entertaining if you're at least a little
interested in science. His coverage of astronomy, for example, makes for
a great reminder of all those facts you'll surely have read or heard before, but Bryson manages to make them fun to read.

But: As other reviewers mentioned - his selection of scientific sources
is by no means exhaustive (and, yes, anglo-centric...). I personally can
live with that, as his book aims at people reading for fun, not as supplement
to university textbooks :-)

The thing I liked most: setting us (mankind) into a somehow "ultra-tiny"
perspective: We're definitely not as important as we sometimes make
ourselves believe.

My conclusion: Well worth reading.
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am 27. Januar 2014
A Short History of Nearly Everything is an enlightening, educational, entertaining, and easy to read book for readers who have a natural curiosity about life. Coming from reading Disciples of Fortune, which is a book from a different culture that exposes and answers questions in a hilarious way, this book came as a further boost and made me feel like I was involved in the telling and listening of the story.
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am 14. März 2006
I was first acquainted with Bill Bryson through his works on the English language and various travelogue types of books. In these books he proved to be an entertaining writer, witty and interesting, with just the right amount of I'm-not-taking-myself-too-seriously attitude to make for genuinely pleasurable reading. Other books of his, 'Notes from a Small Island' and 'The Mother Tongue', are ones I return to again and again. His latest book, one of the longer ones (I was surprised, as most Bryson books rarely exceed 300 pages, and this one weighs in well past 500), is one likely to join those ranks.
Of course, a history of everything, even a SHORT history of NEARLY everything, has got to be fairly long. Bryson begins, logically enough, at the beginning, or at least the beginning as best science can determine. Bryson weaves the story of science together with a gentle description of the science involved - he looks not only at the earliest constructs of the universe (such as the background radiation) but also at those who discover the constructs (such as Penzias and Wilson).
A great example of the way Bryson weaves the history of science into the description of science, in a sense showing the way the world changes as our perceptions of how it exists change, is his description of the formulation, rejection, and final acceptance of the Pangaea theory. He looks at figures such as Wegener (the German meteorologist - 'weatherman', as Bryson describes him) who pushed forward the theory in the face of daunting scientific rejection that the continents did indeed move, and that similarities in flora and fauna, as well as rock formations and other geological and geographical aspects, can be traced back to a unified continent. Bryson with gentle humour discusses the attitudes of scientists, as they shifted not quite as slowly as the continents, towards accepting this theory, making gentle jabs along the way (Einstein even wrote a foreword to a book that was rather scathing toward the idea of plate tectonics - brilliance is no guarantee against being absolutely wrong).
Bryson traces the development of the universe and the world from the earliest universe to the formation of the planet, to the growing diversity of life forms to development of human beings and human society. Inspired by Natural History (the short history refers more to natural history than anything else), this traces the path to us and possible futures. Bryson juxtaposes the creation of the Principia by Isaac Newton with the extinction of the dodo bird - stating that the word contained divinity and felony in the nature of humanity, the same species that can rise to the heights of understanding in the universe can also, for no apparent reason, cause the extinction of hapless and harmless fellow creatures on earth. Are humans, in Bryson's words, 'inherently bad news for other living things'? He recounts many of the truly staggering follies of species-hunting, particularly in the nineteenth century, calling upon people to take far more care of the planet with which we have been entrusted, either through design or fate.
Bryson's take on things is innovative and his narrative is interesting, but there is a point to it, just as there is with most of his writing. He writes not merely to entertain, or to inform, but to persuade. Bryson is intrigued by science, having a joy that comes across the page of someone who essentially did not know or understand a lot of the background of science and how it worked in the world until recently, and now wants to share that joy with everyone! He definitely has points to argue - for starters, the need for open-mindedness, even among (perhaps particularly among) those who are supposed to have the open and searching intellects, the scientists themselves. He also wishes others to know more about science, professionals and laypersons, and more about our own origins as a people, both in terms of where we've come from, and how we've come to know about it.
Unique among Bryson's writing in many ways, this is in some ways a travelogue through geology, paleontology, cosmology and evolution. A fun and fascinating read!
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am 17. August 2010
It's Bryson's usual style of writing that makes quite difficult (and boring) stuff understandable, interesting and even fun to read. For those who like Bryson and are interested in science its a really great buy. By the way, the title "a short history of..." is well chosen because it is primarily about the history of how things got discovered, etc. so it helps if you are interested in historical developments (narrated in an entertaining and easy going way). It's a book I will certainly read again, not because it's riveting but because it's well worth reading again and it makes you think seriously about things (and laugh) at the same time. (There are not many books I can say that about, can you?)
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