As the title suggests, bestselling author Bryson (In a Sunburned Country) sets out to put his irrepressible stamp on all things under the sun. As he states at the outset, this is a book about life, the universe and everything, from the Big Bang to the ascendancy of Homo sapiens. "This is a book about how it happened," the author writes. "In particular how we went from there being nothing at all to there being something, and then how a little of that something turned into us, and also what happened in between and since." What follows is a brick of a volume summarizing moments both great and curious in the history of science, covering already well-trod territory in the fields of cosmology, astronomy, paleontology, geology, chemistry, physics and so on. Bryson relies on some of the best material in the history of science to have come out in recent years. This is great for Bryson fans, who can encounter this material in its barest essence with the bonus of having it served up in Bryson's distinctive voice. But readers in the field will already have studied this information more in-depth in the originals and may find themselves questioning the point of a breakneck tour of the sciences that contributes nothing novel. Nevertheless, to read Bryson is to travel with a memoirist gifted with wry observation and keen insight that shed new light on things we mistake for commonplace. To accompany the author as he travels with the likes of Charles Darwin on the Beagle, Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton is a trip worth taking for most readers.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The walk itself is like a bad sitcom, with lots of grumbling and falling through things – tents, bunk beds, you get the idea – and yet more eye-rolling, normally at the expense of irritating passers-by (one played by Kristen Schaal, who’s almost as poorly deployed here as Thompson – and let’s not even get on to Mary Steenburgen, as a motel proprietress with an eye for married writers). Katz comes across as a sex pest, while Bryson is unbearably priggish. In one scene he describes books as “television for smart people” in a way that made me want to force-feed him his cagoule.