A short history of nearly everything – Bill Bryson
I do not enjoy novels. To me, and forgive me for generalizing, novels are stories of other people of which I have no connection to. What I like are essays, especially scientific essays that cleverly convince me that I have a faint idea of what I am reading. And Bill Bryson is the true master of this.
A Short History of Nearly Everything is a chronological collection of discoveries people have made of… well, everything. It is not a collection of a literal chronology, of what things were born when, but rather a chronology of when people found out about things that were always there in front of them. One of the most memorable line from the book was:
“it is daunting to think that Henry Ford have been making automobiles long before people knew that the Earth had a core.”
As one reads through, one almost hears a great many people exclaim “oh, this was here? Since when?” Many discoverers, especially in the past, were British. So a touch of ye-old English is added to the exclamation, which has never been unfavorable. Such a comedic relief tells one how blind people are at the amazing world presented before them, and how self-proclaimed the so called ‘scientists’ are with their knowledge as tiny as a floating dust.
The issue that Mr. Bryson points out throughout the book, and unto the end, is the self-righteousness of people. They do not know how much damage people have made to nature, to animals and plants, and to the past. People do things without considering the impact, and later call them ‘mistakes.’ How might one prevent people from making more ‘mistakes?’ I’d say that the only way to stop people from making stupid decisions is to make them… less stupid. Make them study the past to learn from the mistakes. To do that, a good first step would be to start reading A Short History of Nearly Everything.