Rendu célèbre par ses récits de voyage et son humour, l'Américain Bill Bryson entreprend dans ce nouveau livre le plus extraordinaire des périples : surpris d'apprendre qu'on pourrait acheter tous les composants chimiques de notre organisme pour cinq dollars dans une quincaillerie, il décide d'explorer le corps humain et d'en percer les secrets.
« Jamais un bouquin ne m'a fait autant rire », affirme Robert Redford, qui en a fait son livre de chevet et vient de l'adapter à l'écran. Retour aux Etats-Unis, retour à la nature : Bill Bryson s'attaque à l'Appalachian Trail, un sentier qui serpente, sur 3500 kilomètres, du Maine à la Géorgie. Dans cette aventure qui mêle histoire naturelle et histoires drôles, il s'est choisi pour compagnon de marche son vieux copain d'école, Stephen Katz, l'un des personnages de Ma fabuleuse enfance dans l'Amérique des années 1950, que la nature intéresse beaucoup, beaucoup moins que X-Files. Le problème, c'est qu'en se promenant dans les bois on risque de croiser, comme dans la série de science-fiction, d'étranges créatures...
Posez une question, Bryson y répond dans ce livre qui conjugue avec bonheur science et sourire. Vous y apprendrez par quels hasards, traits de génie, intuitions, déductions, expérimentations, débats, les hommes en sont arrivés à connaître le monde tel qu'ils le connaissent aujourd'hui. Tout y est (ou presque) de l'histoire des sciences, de notre planète et de l'univers. Un merveilleux compagnon, dont la lecture devrait être recommandée à tous les collégiens... et à leurs parents ! Ce livre a reçu le prestigieux prix Aventis du meilleur livre de vulgarisation scientifique et l'Union européeenne lui a décerné le prix Descartes pour la communication scientifique.
Ayant découvert que ce qui s'était passé dans le monde depuis deux siècles s'était retrouvé sous forme d'objets et de rituels quotidiens dans notre intérieur, le plus drôle des écrivains voyageurs américains fait le tour de sa maison pour nous raconter cette grande aventure du génie humain - de l'invention de la tapette à souris à la conception de la tour Eiffel, de la saga des acariens à celle des milliardaires. Une histoire de l'envers du décor.
Entre récit de voyage, peinture de société et expériences loufoques, cet impertinent et savoureux portrait de l'Angleterre des années 1990 (épicé de flash-backs dans les années 1970) a consacré Bill Bryson comme le plus british des écrivains américains.
Lorsque Bill Bryson naît en 1951 à Des Moines, capitale de l'Iowa, 90 pour 100 des Américains possèdent déjà un réfrigérateur. Au cours de cette décennie heureuse, il leur sera répété que tout ou presque est bon pour la santé, dont la cigarette, le DTT et les retombées radioactives. Tout en racontant son enfance, Bryson nous régale d'une chronique des années 1950 aussi drôle que tendre. Gags à chaque page sur le quotidien d'un petit garçon de la middle class dans le Middle West, mais par-delà le fou rire, ce portrait d'une superpuissance trop sûre d'elle nous fait méditer sur le déclin de l'empire américain.
Après avoir brossé avec humour tant de portraits d'Américains moyens, Bill Bryson s'attaque à l'un des plus grands génies de la planète, pour prendre la mesure de ce que les archives nous apprennent réellement sur William Shakespeare. Celui-ci n'a laissé en effet que quatorze mots de sa main, mais combien de milliards d'autres écrits sur lui, qui l'on transformé en obsession d'universitaires et d'excentriques aveuglés par les idées reçues ! En campant avec truculence le décor de l'Angleterre de la fin du XVIe siècle dans un livre qui fait de l'érudition un régal. Bryson nous ramène tout simplement à l'homme qu'a pu être le dramaturge, et l'on finit par en apprendre beaucoup sur un personnage aussi mystérieux. Surtout, notre écrivain-voyageur de l'Iowa nous transporte au coeur d'une oeuvre universelle qui demeure la plus belle preuve de l'existence de William Shakespeare.
L'auteur américain de tant de chroniques drôlissimes sur ses compatriotes d'aujourd'hui s'intéresse à ceux du passé dans ce livre pour lequel il a été élu outre-Manche meilleur auteur de non-fiction : avec pour point de départ la traversée de l'Atlantique par Lindbergh, le 21 mai 1927, et au travers d'innombrables destins personnels, son récit est tout à la fois un portrait loufoque sur cinq mois des États-Unis d'avant la Grande Dépression, une collection d'événements et d'inventions ayant bouleversé le monde (cinéma parlant, télévision, etc.), ainsi qu'une évocation de problématiques toujours très actuelles (climat et bulles spéculatives, présidents étranges et tueurs fous...).
In the company of his friend Stephen Katz (last seen in the bestselling Neither Here nor There), Bill Bryson set off to hike the Appalachian Trail, the longest continuous footpath in the world. Ahead lay almost 2,200 miles of remote mountain wilderness filled with bears, moose, bobcats, rattlesnakes, poisonous plants, disease-bearing tics, the occasional chuckling murderer and - perhaps most alarming of all - people whose favourite pastime is discussing the relative merits of the external-frame backpack.Facing savage weather, merciless insects, unreliable maps and a fickle companion whose profoundest wish was to go to a motel and watch The X-Files, Bryson gamely struggled through the wilderness to achieve a lifetime's ambition - not to die outdoors.
It is the driest, flattest, hottest, most desiccated, infertile and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents and still Australia teems with life - a large portion of it quite deadly. In fact, Australia has more things that can kill you in a very nasty way than anywhere else.Ignoring such dangers - and yet curiously obsessed by them - Bill Bryson journeyed to Australia and promptly fell in love with the country. And who can blame him? The people are cheerful, extrovert, quick-witted and unfailingly obliging: their cities are safe and clean and nearly always built on water; the food is excellent; the beer is cold and the sun nearly always shines. Life doesn't get much better than this...
'I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to'And, as soon as Bill Bryson was old enough, he left. Des Moines couldn't hold him, but it did lure him back. After ten years in England, he returned to the land of his youth, and drove almost 14,000 miles in search of a mythical small town called Amalgam, the kind of trim and sunny place where the films of his youth were set. Instead, his search led him to Anywhere, USA; a lookalike strip of gas stations, motels and hamburger outlets populated by lookalike people with a penchant for synthetic fibres. He discovered a continent that was doubly lost; lost to itself because blighted by greed, pollution, mobile homes and television; lost to him because he had become a stranger in his own land.Bryson's acclaimed first success, The Lost Continent is a classic of travel literature - hilariously, stomach-achingly, funny, yet tinged with heartache - and the book that first staked Bill Bryson's claim as the most beloved writer of his generation.
Bill Bryson's first travel book, The Lost Continent, was unanimously acclaimed as one of the funniest books in years. In Neither Here nor There he brings his unique brand of humour to bear on Europe as he shoulders his backback, keeps a tight hold on his wallet, and journeys from Hammerfest, the northernmost town on the continent, to Istanbul on the cusp of Asia. Fluent in, oh, at least one language, he retraces his travels as a student twenty years before.Whether braving the homicidal motorists of Paris, being robbed by gypsies in Florence, attempting not to order tripe and eyeballs in a German restaurant or window-shopping in the sex shops of the Reeperbahn, Bryson takes in the sights, dissects the culture and illuminates each place and person with his hilariously caustic observations. He even goes to Liechtenstein.
In 1995, before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire to move back to the States for a few years with his family, Bill Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home. His aim was to take stock of the nation's public face and private parts (as it were), and to analyse what precisely it was he loved so much about a country that had produced Marmite; a military hero whose dying wish was to be kissed by a fellow named Hardy; place names like Farleigh Wallop, Titsey and Shellow Bowells; people who said 'Mustn't grumble', and 'Ooh lovely' at the sight of a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits; and Gardeners' Question Time. Notes from a Small Island was a huge number-one bestseller when it was first published, and has become the nation's most loved book about Britain, going on to sell over two million copies.
Edited and introduced by Bill Bryson, with contributions from Richard Dawkins, Margaret Atwood, Richard Holmes, Martin Rees, Richard Fortey, Steve Jones, James Gleick and Neal Stephenson amongst others, this book tells the story of science and the Royal Society, from 1660 to the present.
On a damp weeknight in November, 350 years ago, a dozen or so men gathered at Gresham College in London. A twenty-eight year old - and not widely famous - Christopher Wren was giving a lecture on astronomy. As his audience listened to him speak, they decided that it would be a good idea to create a Society to promote the accumulation of useful knowledge. With that, the Royal Society was born.
Since its birth, the Royal Society has pioneered scientific exploration and discovery. Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Joseph Banks, Humphry Davy, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, John Locke, Alexander Fleming - all were fellows. Bill Bryson's favourite fellow was Reverend Thomas Bayes, a brilliant mathematician who devised Bayes' theorem. Its complexity meant that it had little practical use in Bayes' own lifetime, but today his theorem is used for weather forecasting, astrophysics and stock market analysis. A milestone in mathematical history, it only exists because the Royal Society decided to preserve it - just in case.
The Royal Society continues to do today what it set out to do all those years ago. Its members have split the atom, discovered the double helix, the electron, the computer and the World Wide Web. Truly international in its outlook, it has created modern science. 'Seeing Further' celebrates its momentous history and achievements, bringing together the very best of science writing. Filled with illustrations of treasures from the Society's archives, this is a unique, ground-breaking and beautiful volume, and a suitable reflection of the immense achievements of science.
Bill Bryson goes to Kenya at the invitation of CARE International, the charity dedicated to working with local communities to eradicate poverty around the world. Kenya, generally regarded as the cradle of humankind, is a land of stunning landscapes, famous game reserves, and a vibrant culture, but it also has many serious problems, including refugees, AIDS, drought and grinding poverty. It also provides plenty to worry a nervous traveller like Bill Bryson: hair-raising rides in light aircraft, tropical diseases, snakes, insects and large predators.Bryson casts his inimitable eye on a continent new to him, and the resultant diary, though short in length, contains all his trademark laugh-out-loud wit, wry observation and curious insight. All the author's royalties from this book, as well as all profits, will go to CARE International.
Bill Bryson's first travel book opened with the immortal line, 'I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.' In this deeply funny and personal memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, in the curious world of 1950s Middle America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout. This is a book about one boy's growing up. But in Bryson's hands, it becomes everyone's story, one that will speak volumes - especially to anyone who has ever been young.
International bestseller Bill Bryson brings us this brilliantly readable biography of the world's greatest playwright, William Shakespeare.
Join Bill as he takes you on a journey through Elizabethan England, tackling the myths, half-truths and downright lies to make sense of the man behind the masterpieces.
Revel in this glorious celebration of the life of Shakespeare from the much-loved author of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' and 'Notes from a Small Island'.
Bill Bryson turns away from the highways and byways of middle America, so hilariously depicted in his bestselling The Lost Continent, for a fast, exhilarating ride along the Route 66 of American language and popular culture.In Made in America, Bryson de-mythologizes his native land - explaining how a dusty desert hamlet with neither woods nor holly became Hollywood, how the Wild West wasn't won, why Americans say 'lootenant' and 'Toosday', how Americans were eating junk food long before the word itself was cooked up - as well as exposing the true origins of the G-string, the original $64,000 question and Dr Kellogg of cornflakes fame.Buy this book at once and have a nice day!
Bill Bryson has the rare knack of being out of his depth wherever he goes - even (perhaps especially) in the land of his birth. This became all too apparent when, after nearly two decades in England, the world's best-loved travel writer upped sticks with Mrs Bryson, little Jimmy et al. and returned to live in the country he had left as a youth.Of course there were things Bryson missed about Blighty but any sense of loss was countered by the joy of rediscovering some of the forgotten treasures of his childhood: the glories of a New England autumn; the pleasingly comical sight of oneself in shorts; and motel rooms where you can generally count on being awakened in the night by a piercing shriek and the sound of a female voice pleading, 'Put the gun down, Vinnie, I'll do anything you say.'Whether discussing the strange appeal of breakfast pizza or the jaw-slackening direness of American TV, Bill Bryson brings his inimitable brand of bemused wit to bear on that strangest of phenomena - the American way of life.
This celebration of the English countryside does not only focus on the rolling green landscapes and magnificent monuments that set England apart from the rest of the world. Many of the contributors bring their own special touch, presenting a refreshingly eclectic variety of personal icons, from pub signs to seaside piers, from cattle grids to canal boats, and from village cricket to nimbies. First published as a lavish colour coffeetable book, this new expanded paperback edition has double the original number of contributions from many celebrities including Bill Bryson, Michael Palin, Eric Clapton, Bryan Ferry, Sebastian Faulks, Kate Adie, Kevin Spacey, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, Richard Mabey , Simon Jenkins, John Sergeant, Benjamin Zephaniah, Joan Bakewell, Antony Beevor, Libby Purves, Jonathan Dimbleby, and many more: and a new preface by HRH Prince Charles.
In At Home, Bill Bryson applies the same irrepressible curiosity, irresistible wit, stylish prose and masterful storytelling that made A Short History of Nearly Everything one of the most lauded books of the last decade, and delivers one of the most entertaining and illuminating books ever written about the history of the way we live. Bill Bryson was struck one day by the thought that we devote a lot more time to studying the battles and wars of history than to considering what history really consists of: centuries of people quietly going about their daily business - eating, sleeping and merely endeavouring to get more comfortable. And that most of the key discoveries for humankind can be found in the very fabric of the houses in which we live.This inspired him to start a journey around his own house, an old rectory in Norfolk, wandering from room to room considering how the ordinary things in life came to be. Along the way he did a prodigious amount of research on the history of anything and everything, from architecture to electricity, from food preservation to epidemics, from the spice trade to the Eiffel Tower, from crinolines to toilets; and on the brilliant, creative and often eccentric minds behind them. And he discovered that, although there may seem to be nothing as unremarkable as our domestic lives, there is a huge amount of history, interest and excitement - and even a little danger - lurking in the corners of every home.
Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller, but even when he stays safely at home he can't contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. Bill Bryson's challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry and particle physics, and see if there isn't some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science.The ultimate eye-opening journey through time and space, A Short History of Nearly Everything is the biggest-selling popular science book of the 21st century, and reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.
What does history really consist of? Centuries of people quietly going about their daily business - sleeping, eating, having sex, endeavouring to get comfortable. And where did all these normal activities take place? At home.This was the thought that inspired Bill Bryson to start a journey around the rooms of his own house, an 1851 Norfolk rectory, to consider how the ordinary things in life came to be.
And what he discovered are surprising connections to anything from the Crystal Palace to the Eiffel Tower, from scurvy to body-snatching, from bedbugs to the Industrial Revolution, and just about everything else that has ever happened, resulting in one of the most entertaining and illuminating books ever written about the history of the way we live, enhanced in this new edition by hundreds of stunning photographs and illustrations.
What is the difference between cant and jargon, or assume and presume? What is a fandango? How do you spell supersede? Is it hippy or hippie? These questions really matter to Bill Bryson, as they do to anyone who cares about the English language. Originally published as The Penguin Dictionary for Writers and Editors, Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors has now been completely revised and updated for the twenty-first century by Bill Bryson himself. Here is a very personal selection of spellings and usages, covering such head-scratchers as capitalization, plurals, abbreviations and foreign names and phrases. Bryson also gives us the difference between British and American usages, and miscellaneous pieces of essential information you never knew you needed, like the names of all the Oxford colleges, or the correct spelling of Brobdingnag. An indispensable companion to all those who write, work with the written word, or who just enjoy getting things right, it gives rulings that are both authoritative and commonsense, all in Bryson's own inimitably goodhumoured way.