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Origin Story

A Big History of Everything
Narrated by: Jamie Jackson
Length: 12 hrs and 23 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (36 ratings)
Non-member price: $39.00
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Publisher's Summary

A captivating history of the universe - from before the dawn of time through the far reaches of the distant future. 

Most historians study the smallest slivers of time, emphasizing specific dates, individuals, and documents. But what would it look like to study the whole of history, from the big bang through the present day - and even into the remote future? How would looking at the full span of time change the way we perceive the universe, the earth, and our very existence? 

These were the questions David Christian set out to answer when he created the field of "Big History", the most exciting new approach to understanding where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. In Origin Story, Christian takes readers on a wild ride through the entire 13.8 billion years we've come to know as "history". By focusing on defining events (thresholds), major trends, and profound questions about our origins, Christian exposes the hidden threads that tie everything together - from the creation of the planet to the advent of agriculture, nuclear war, and beyond. With stunning insights into the origin of the universe, the beginning of life, the emergence of humans, and what the future might bring, Origin Story boldly reframes our place in the cosmos.

©2018 David Christian (P)2018 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome

Comprehensive, looks for patterns and similarities, draws analogies, big picture thinking. Audiobook voice is also good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant birds eye perspective on existence

Brilliant birds eye perspective on existence. The author does a remarkable job at covering a vast period of time in a way that keeps the reader engaged.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely crucial reading

How I wish this book could be adapted to become a core text in secondary schools so that young people could develop a fascination with our evolutionary origins and make sense of their own place in our extraordinary universe. The work is an absorbing new story of humanity that places us in the context of the ecosphere avoiding speciesist generalisations. I love the way the author talks of human intelligence to refer to the special linguistic gift of humankind whilst fully acknowledging animal intelligence and the complex wonder of organisms. Really enjoyed the narration too....

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Didn’t understand all of it but still enjoyable

Could do with taking a few minutes to explain the science around things (for us non science buffs) eg protons, electrons. Otherwise still enjoyable.

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  • Diana
  • 15-08-2018

A great introduction into big history

The book takes you through what we understand as the beginning of the universe up to the creation of modern civilization. I myself can start to lose attention when big numbers are thrown out, but I wasn't too put off by the way they described our early universe. The evolution of big life, then hominid species, is when I really found it to get interesting. So if you find the beginning to be a little slow, I would advise you to stick with it. It's really worth it.

28 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • N. Weston
  • 29-07-2018

Really interesting

I really enjoyed this book and it held my attention the whole way through (although I was a little surprised by that to be honest). It is factual, apolitical and ended with some very thought provoking ideas. The narrator was excellent with just the right amount of energy and inflection for the book.

61 of 64 people found this review helpful

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  • RCSL
  • 05-09-2018

A brilliant achievement, must read/listen

This is the best and perhaps most important book I have read or listened to in a long time. We humans have a very poor sense of our place in the universe and this planet, of what a speck we are on the ocean of time. Origin Story places us in the context of, quite literally, the history of everything: the Big Bang, formation of galaxies, our star and our planet; the chemical, geological and biological development of the Earth; and where our species has come from, how it has transformed in an instant; and how our hurtling acceleration of technology and energy consumption may destroy us and our home. However, it also discusses how we can change our direction, possibly leading us to a brilliant future.

One of the main characters in this book is entropy, and entropy always wins in the end. Christian states that it will lead to the heat death of the universe, which he explains well. (I have read, however, that some scientists think that the ever faster expansion of the universe may lead to a Big Rip, in which the fabric of spacetime is literally shredded.)

The book is written with exceptional clarity and organization. There is limited scientific jargon and when technical terms are used, they are well explained. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in something more than the myopic vision of ourselves that is so prevalent.

84 of 89 people found this review helpful

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  • Joe Klepacki
  • 07-08-2018

A Little Bit of Everything

After reading A Short History of Nearly Everything, I was worried this book may be a little repetitive. However, I was pleasantly surprised that this only built-on any prior tid bits and only made the reading more enjoyable.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Rebecca Sokol
  • 03-08-2018

Interesting-Fascinating-Scary

An enjoyable book to remind us who we are and where we are going. All ages will profit from the lessons in this book. I did not agree with some of the conclusions reached, such as why hominids control the earth. I think the author falls short in his assessments of the other species with whom we share this planet.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • William F. McCann
  • 09-08-2018

Interesting but boring

is that an oxymoron? This book is a great introduction to the current thinking regarding creation of the universe and evolution of man. that said, it's pretty dry and a bit boring to listen to.

26 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Lori
  • 10-07-2018

Amazing!

Lots of data but that's what made it so interesting. I highly recommend it for all who are curious and who struggle to find their place in the universe.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • 25-09-2018

Outstanding!

Recommended reading for all humans. Don’t let a bit of a slow beginning deter you, this book is incredibly rich, informative and well done.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Martin Vecera
  • 12-09-2018

The best book on how we got where we are

I was very surprised the deep extent of the book and put it on the list of my top favorites. I learnt some of the individual concepts on high school but never saw the so connected. Awesome!

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Elisabeth Carey
  • 24-11-2018

A lively look at who we are & how we got here

Every culture and tradition has had its origin story, its understanding of how the world came to be as they knew it, which formed the basis for their further understanding of how to live, interact with others, get food, make clothes. Our origin stories are the basis of how we understand everything.

Now, in the early 21st century, we know far more about the origin of the universe, our sun, our planet, and life on Earth. We live in a society of unparalleled complexity, and in the last two hundred years, we have gained the ability not just to support more human beings, but to improve the daily lives of most humans on the planet, not just an elite 10% or so.

What we haven't done yet is integrate this knowledge into a new, shared origin story that helps us cope with this new, complex, and rapidly changing world.

Christian intends this as at least a first pass at a modern origin story. In a lively, highly readable or listenable style, he lays out the basics of our new knowledge of the origins of the universe, our planet, and life on Earth, as well as an overview of the evolution of our species and development of our societies, right down to how we made the transition from strictly agrarian societies to today's high-tech, rapidly changing world.

And he looks at the challenges as well as the benefits of that transition and our current power to affect our planet.

Christian makes the point, as others have in the last few years, that we now have, in essence, the controls for our only habitable planet. We decide what species live and which ones die, and we are playing with the climate controls. If we understand and master those controls in time, we have the potential to give our species the best and most comfortable lives we have ever had.

Or we could make the planet uninhabitable for such an energy-consuming culture, and drive ourselves back to the early agrarian or even hunter-gatherer level.

Or we could render the planet uninhabitable for our species altogether, and leave Earth to start over again, with other species in a climate unlike any that has existed since the first primates evolved.

Despite that potential grim outcome, I found this overall a lively and interesting book, well worth the time I spent listening to it. Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alexander
  • 17-12-2018

Informative and well structured

Really didn’t expect the ending of this book to form the way it did, but it was much better than I could have expected.
Very well detailed conclusion

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Gareth
  • 22-06-2018

A Very Good Effort

So the challenge to write a big history of everything must be a huge task. My knowledge of the topics covered in this book are elementary but I was seeking a consilience of thought.
David Christian has to be congratulated on his excellent attempt to achieve an almost impossible task. I found the reading and subject matter excellent. There were sometimes parts I didn't fully grasp but this is the joy of learning in so much that it stimulates one to research some more.
I have noticed on general book review sites there becomes almost an intellectual one- upmanship and a culture of "look at me I have a better knowledge than the author" by picking fault and quoting other books. Not into this game and for me what made this book superb was the theme of energy flows in natural systems a constant thread throughout.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-07-2018

Not great

If you wish to know the history of everything, I cannot recommend A Brief History Of Everything by Bill Bryson enough, it explains almost everything in an informative, fun and interesting way.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful