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** A 2018 GoodReads Choice Award Nominee in the History & Biography category** 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 b ** A 2018 GoodReads Choice Award Nominee in the History & Biography category** 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.


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** A 2018 GoodReads Choice Award Nominee in the History & Biography category** 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 b ** A 2018 GoodReads Choice Award Nominee in the History & Biography category** 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.

30 review for Origin Story: A Big History of Everything

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Gates

    We all have an origin story. In some societies, they manifest as creation myths. In others, they look more like history textbooks. For example, as a kid in the United States, I grew up learning about the group of rebels who stood up to their British overlords and founded our country. It’s human nature to be curious about where we come from, and origin stories unite people through a common history and shared sense of purpose. But what if all of humanity shared an origin story? What would that stor We all have an origin story. In some societies, they manifest as creation myths. In others, they look more like history textbooks. For example, as a kid in the United States, I grew up learning about the group of rebels who stood up to their British overlords and founded our country. It’s human nature to be curious about where we come from, and origin stories unite people through a common history and shared sense of purpose. But what if all of humanity shared an origin story? What would that story look like? Historian David Christian tries to answer those questions in his new book Origin Story. As the creator of Big History—my favorite course of all time—David is well-suited to write about how we came to be. Big History tells the story of the universe from the big bang to the first signs of life to today’s complex societies. It shows how everything is connected to everything else, weaving together insights and evidence from across disciplines into a single, understandable narrative. Origin Story is essentially the Big History course condensed into a short book. It divides 13.8 billion years of existence into what David calls “thresholds”—moments in history that mark key transition points, like the formation of our solar system and the first appearance of early humans. The chapters about the early thresholds are heavy on physics and chemistry, but it skews more towards biology and anthropology as single cell life evolves into more complex beings. If you haven’t taken Big History, Origin Story introduces you to its concepts in a straightforward, understandable way. David is a very good writer, and he has a way of making complicated subjects fun. If you’re already a Big Historian, Origin Story is a great refresher. It does a fantastic job distilling the latest thinking about the origins of the universe. I learned some things that are simply too new to be included in the course. The book ends with a chapter on where humanity—and the universe—is headed. David is more pessimistic about the future than I am. He gets a little stuck on the current economic and political malaise happening in the West, and I wish he talked more about the role innovation will play in preventing the worst effects of climate change. But he nails the importance of this moment in history: “Things are happening so fast that, like the slow-motion time of a near accident, the details of what we do in the next few decades will have huge consequences for us and for the biosphere on scales of thousands of years. Like it or not, we are now managing an entire biosphere, and we can do it well or badly.” Understanding where humanity comes from is crucial to shaping where we go next. Origin Story is an up-to-date history of everything that will leave you with a greater appreciation of our place in the universe.

  2. 5 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    David Christian's Origin Story: A Big History of Everything was my first go at 'big history' (13.8 billion years of it). Christian looked at threshold events the way futurists look at trends and singularities. These thresholds were like transitional mile markers differentiating one order (perhaps by a near extinction event) from the next. Christian looked at the numerous 'Goldilocks' conditions which allowed life to exist as it does today. Christian also brought origins myths into this history, David Christian's Origin Story: A Big History of Everything was my first go at 'big history' (13.8 billion years of it). Christian looked at threshold events the way futurists look at trends and singularities. These thresholds were like transitional mile markers differentiating one order (perhaps by a near extinction event) from the next. Christian looked at the numerous 'Goldilocks' conditions which allowed life to exist as it does today. Christian also brought origins myths into this history, especially at the beginning of his book. However, while big history is, probably by necessity, non-personal, I would have found it more compelling to have explored more mythology in Christian's final chapter of future history. Interesting read!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    Big History is becoming a familiar concept. Since it was launched in the 1990s by the Dutchman Fred Spier and in Australia by David Christian himself, it has taken on a life of its own. Christian first summed up his way of looking at history "on a large scale" in 2004 in his Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, which was an impressive book, though not without issues. Since then, variants and additions have been published by himself, but also by many others. Big History also has become a Big History is becoming a familiar concept. Since it was launched in the 1990s by the Dutchman Fred Spier and in Australia by David Christian himself, it has taken on a life of its own. Christian first summed up his way of looking at history "on a large scale" in 2004 in his Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, which was an impressive book, though not without issues. Since then, variants and additions have been published by himself, but also by many others. Big History also has become a separate discipline within the academic world, with its own institutes and journals (not to confound with ‘Global History’). And the movement was especially impacted by the enthusiasm with which Bill Gates and his Foundation endorsed this approach, which resulted, among other things, into a comprehensive package of didactic material that historians and others can use in education. The great merit of Big History is that human history is fitted into that of the universe, an extreme bird's eye view that allows to see the broad lines and thus distinguish the important from the secondary. David Christian does this in this book with much more efficiency than in his first ones. The relative place of man in the universe is constantly emphasized, while at the same time highlighting the enormous impact of human activity on the own planet. The book is much more didactic and therefore more accessible than ‘Maps of Time’ (although there are certainly tough passages, with a lot of jargon). But over the years Big History has also received a lot of criticism. As said before, the extreme bird's eye view has its advantages, but it ignores the ultra-contingent character of historical evolutions. Christian tries to compensate for this by constantly underlining the complex convergence of coincidence and necessity, highlighting the importance of emergent phenomena and unexpected feedback loops. But, of course, a glimpse into the history of the universe from such a great distance inevitably gets a certain deterministic undertone, as if everything went as it should have gone. A second major criticism of Big History is that the emphasis is a little too much on the physics-cosmological approach: a lot of time is spent on sketching the origin and development of the universe, of our solar system, of life on earth and so on , and that is clearly at the expense of human history. In this book, for example, mankind only appears halfway through, so that human history is limited to a few rough lines of evolution. The criticism is correct, of course, but - as said - it is precisely the merit of Big History that it places human history in that broader context. Still, the extensive use of theories from the science of physics, chemistry and biology, keep on haunting the Big History-movement. A final criticism is that Big History is implicitly based on a form of belief in progress. David Christian doesn't even make a secret of it. Like many physicists, he expresses his fascination for the impressive process of evolution that our universe has gone through, in an ascending line of increasing complexity. And he immediately emphasizes how fascinating it is that in our age we have obtained a reliable picture of that evolution through science (in contrast to religious and other creation myths). "Because it is based on a global heritage of thoroughly controlled knowledge and information, and because it is the first genesis of human societies and cultures from all over the world." Big History exudes the unshakable belief in the cumulative progression of knowledge and insight through science, with a specific emphasis on the connecting and overarching elements. Christian is well aware of how much that positive perspective has faltered in our recent time period, precisely because of the enormous possibilities that man has acquired to intervene in his environment, even to annihilate that environment. Hence the very moral tone in the epilogue, with a call to change tack, but also with a strong belief in technological possibilities. I can recommend this book, although it has some technical-scientific chapters, and you have to deal with the caveats I mentioned above. But Christian has managed to summarize his take on "universal" history in a very engaging way, and also made an effort to deal with some of the criticisms on Big History. I'm still not fully convinced of the full potential of this approach, but I have to concede it has its merits. See also my review in my History-alias on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  4. 5 out of 5

    A Man Called Ove

    The first thing I have done after finishing the book is to unlike Bill Gates' review (4/5) of it. I also suspect if he reviewed and recommended this not because he personally found it great, but because he wanted others to read it as a good, lucid introductory book on Big History. The first half of the book is a poor cousin of "Cosmos" or "A Short history of Nearly Everything". It deals with the origin of the universe to the origin of human beings. The book has more information than insights and The first thing I have done after finishing the book is to unlike Bill Gates' review (4/5) of it. I also suspect if he reviewed and recommended this not because he personally found it great, but because he wanted others to read it as a good, lucid introductory book on Big History. The first half of the book is a poor cousin of "Cosmos" or "A Short history of Nearly Everything". It deals with the origin of the universe to the origin of human beings. The book has more information than insights and for this part, the book felt a bit better. Couldnt help comparing the second half, the story of humans, to the magnificient "Sapiens" by Harari. Instead of insights you have a lot of children's general history level facts thrown at you here. It was so uninteresting that I skimmed the last chapter. Avoid, unless this is the first book you will be reading on this subject. And my level of disappointment is bcoz I have read some fantastic books on related topics.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emma Sea

    loved this. Had the most wonderful sense of the sublime while reading it; I'm tiny and unimportant and my specific life could not matter less. Christian's framing of 21st-century power in terms of cell structures has made me deal better with my anxiety about how fucked the world is, and my fears for humanity in the near future. Excellent writing, about the only topic there is, really.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Geevee

    • Big bang, • Big (and some very small) science, • Big history. David Christian takes his big approach to life, the universe and everything to provide a very readable and interesting book. Origin story will take the reader from billions of years ago up to the information age. He does this in two ways: the first using thresholds to define leaps and...well thresholds in space and evolution; second by accessible and engaging prose. For me the big bang, and how that developed along with its universes, ga • Big bang, • Big (and some very small) science, • Big history. David Christian takes his big approach to life, the universe and everything to provide a very readable and interesting book. Origin story will take the reader from billions of years ago up to the information age. He does this in two ways: the first using thresholds to define leaps and...well thresholds in space and evolution; second by accessible and engaging prose. For me the big bang, and how that developed along with its universes, galaxies and solar systems was a riveting story. Couple this with how these things behaved, and how they continue to do so, underpinned by chemistry and physics explained through human understanding of sciences gave me a better grasp of not just how but the what and why. I was more clear too with this big and complex subject thanks to the high-quality writing on how man is able to use his intelligence to map, explore, investigate and then prove the origin story. The history of our own solar system and our planet is clear and easy to digest. As Mr Christian moves through the Earth's phases and changes the reader is given easy to understand information and when needed excellent explanation and helpful analogies. As for humans and the impact we have had on Earth, the last threshold and phase in the book, the story is well told. Oddly it was this point I lost a little interest; perhaps because it is contemporary and not new to me? I chose this book because it was a shiny new one begging me to take it home from my library. I was glad I did - for what is sub-400 pages narrative it takes you on a stellar journey that packs a big punch.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tucker (TuckerTheReader)

    Many thanks to Little Brown, and Company for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review Bill Gates blurbed this so | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram Many thanks to Little Brown, and Company for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review Bill Gates blurbed this so | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maria Espadinha

    The Implications of the Unified Whole Bacterias, baboons, rocks, oceans, auroras, meteors, planets, moons, stars, quarks, photons, supernovas, black holes, slugs, cell phones... — they are all part of the Enigmatic Whole — the infinite parts of Infinity, interacting and making History in a Cosmic Web where “a butterfly flaps its wings in Chicago and a tornado occurs in Tokyo.” Everything is connected. Every tiny, atomic event has an implication in the Mysterious, Unified Whole “I have written this The Implications of the Unified Whole Bacterias, baboons, rocks, oceans, auroras, meteors, planets, moons, stars, quarks, photons, supernovas, black holes, slugs, cell phones... — they are all part of the Enigmatic Whole — the infinite parts of Infinity, interacting and making History in a Cosmic Web where “a butterfly flaps its wings in Chicago and a tornado occurs in Tokyo.” Everything is connected. Every tiny, atomic event has an implication in the Mysterious, Unified Whole “I have written this book in the optimistic belief that we are not doomed to a chronic state of fragmentation and meaninglessness. Within the creative hurricane of modernity, there is emerging a new, global origin story that is as full of meaning, awe, and mystery...” — The History of Everything

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jaya

    This was good, definitely good but just so. Felt more of a concoction of already familiar works of some of the famous historians, scientists, biologists and anthropologists. Was hoping for something more insightful...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sense Of History

    David Christian already impressed by his seminal Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, published in 2004 (though I also had some issues with it). This was the first time someone tried to present a comprehensive overview of all of history, including that of the universe, in just one volume. I know, I’m ignoring H.G. Wells’ A Short History of the World, but given its publication date (1922), I’ll guess you understand why: our knowledge of the evolution of the universe since then has evolve David Christian already impressed by his seminal Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, published in 2004 (though I also had some issues with it). This was the first time someone tried to present a comprehensive overview of all of history, including that of the universe, in just one volume. I know, I’m ignoring H.G. Wells’ A Short History of the World, but given its publication date (1922), I’ll guess you understand why: our knowledge of the evolution of the universe since then has evolved so tremendously that you can’t take this serious any more, unless as a historical document. Back to David Christian. In this book Christian offers a remake of his ‘Maps of Time’, but in a more accessible way, and updated with the latest scientific information and theories. In this review I want to look into these changes a bit more. First of all, there’s a lot of repetitive material, and that’s quite obvious: both Maps of Time and this Origin Story follow the same path, from the beginning of our universe until now, and even taking a short look into the future. Christian carefully sketches the scientific knowledge and theories about the Big Bang and what came after, the beginning of our solar system, the venue of life on earth, and the appearance of homo sapiens. And then we are well over halfway. In the final 100 pages over 5.000 years of history of agrarian societies are taken together, followed by the tremendous evolution human history took from the 18th century onwards till now. Especially in that last chapter Christian works in a more coarse-grained way than in his first book, at the expense of historic detail, which is a pity. But in the last book, now under review, Christian has ordered his material in a more didactic way, focussing on 8 thresholds and thus stressing the importance of these giant leaps throughout history. Given the time-lapse between the publication of both books (14 years) it is but logic that Christian has updated his view with the latest scientific knowledge concerning the early development of the universe. For instance, the theory on multiverses is included, and again and again Christian refers to the Goldilocks-principle at every stage in his threshold-overview, reflecting the success of Paul Davies’ book The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life?. Especially his chapter on the start of life on earth has been reworked with a lot of new material; it has become the most technical part of the book, with a lot of difficult jargon. But what struck me most, was that even more than in his first book Christian stresses the processes of information and energy: almost all evolutions, every leap in complexity, is explained in terms of a much higher efficiency in gaining and using information, and in exploiting or extracting more energy. There are no footnotes in this book, but I have the impression Christian has absorbed a lot of new material in this area, and has rewritten the chapters on human history in the last centuries to put the climate change-threat more in perspective. With the naming of the final threshold as ‘Anthropocene’ the author clearly is sailing on that current too. In this chapter, more than ever, the stress is put on the giant leap the use of fossil-fuels has made possible, but also the threats this now poses for our future. It’s almost inevitable then, that in his epilogue he focuses completely on the urgent challenge that climate change is going to be, whilst in Maps of Time he also included outlooks on artificial intelligence and other important evolutions. This makes me think that Christian wrote this new, shorter version of his Maps of Time, with a clear agenda in mind. So, in some ways this book is more accessible and much more didactic, but unfortunately it is also more limited, especially in the part on human history, and it is more engaged. Christian has turned his "universal" history even more into a program to take the human future in our own hands. In that way, this book is not just a history book, but an engaging piece of writing.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Susan in NC

    I want to read more good nonfiction, and came across this intriguing title - it fit the bill nicely, giving me a new cautiously optimistic outlook and taking my mind off of the dreadful news headlines for a bit. First of all, I really enjoyed the dry humor and interesting observations of the author. He uses the term Goldilocks to refer to the just right evolutionary conditions planet Earth possessed which allowed life to develop. The following passage is typical of his engaging style, in which he I want to read more good nonfiction, and came across this intriguing title - it fit the bill nicely, giving me a new cautiously optimistic outlook and taking my mind off of the dreadful news headlines for a bit. First of all, I really enjoyed the dry humor and interesting observations of the author. He uses the term Goldilocks to refer to the just right evolutionary conditions planet Earth possessed which allowed life to develop. The following passage is typical of his engaging style, in which he discusses these ‘evolutionary ups and downs’: “These changes did not take the smooth, stately forms that Darwin and his generation expected of evolution. Instead, the history of big life was an unpredictable and dangerous roller coaster ride… Like the cliché about the life of a soldier, evolution in the Phanerozoic meant long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of terror and life-threatening violence. The violence is most apparent in periods of mass extinctions.” Or these observations on agrarian civilizations: “Viewed ecologically states and their rulers represent a new step in the food chain, a new trophic level. We have seen how energy from sunlight enters the biosphere through photosynthesis and travels from plants to herbivores to carnivores. And we have seen how most of that energy is wasted at each trophic level, in a sort of garbage tax.… Rulers and nobles and officials begin to squeeze wealth in the labor and produce of peasants, who in turn got their energy in food for farming.… Thinking about such processes in ecological terms reminds us that wealth never really consist of things; it consists of control over the energy flows that make, move, mine, and transform things. Wealth is a sort of compressed sunlight, just as matter is really congealed energy.” See? Different and intriguing, yet accessible. And I admit, when I read the above statement about nobles squeezing peasants, I thought of my favorite scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where King Arthur (Graham Chapman) is treated to a lecture on human rights from a peasant! I found Christian’s Big History ideas a fascinating, clear-eyed, intelligent way of getting a big picture of where humans have been and where we may be going; maybe not always a rosy picture, but an impressive and important way to organize our history thus far. I love how beautifully he weaves together so many disciplines and narratives! So much of current news coverage is breathless and cataclysmic and, I feel, takes our eyes and minds off the real, larger issues covered here. I am going to continue to seek out well-written and well-researched non-fiction that helps me grasp the important issues and try and make sense of our world!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    Scary stuff. Really scary, and important, and informational. This is science that everyone needs to understand. If you follow creationist theories, just skip over the bits on evolution. There is still some good information in here that won't go against your beliefs.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nikhil Iyengar

    I have a strong impulse to type the opening lyrics of the show Big Bang Theory, but I'll resist. Origin Story delivers exactly what it promises, the history ranging from the manifestation of the universe to the capitalism and global issues we go through today. I must admit that I glossed over a few chapters because I was here mostly for the human part and just a summary of the big bang. With that in mind, I did find reading the book a fairly enriching exercise that explains how humans evolved to I have a strong impulse to type the opening lyrics of the show Big Bang Theory, but I'll resist. Origin Story delivers exactly what it promises, the history ranging from the manifestation of the universe to the capitalism and global issues we go through today. I must admit that I glossed over a few chapters because I was here mostly for the human part and just a summary of the big bang. With that in mind, I did find reading the book a fairly enriching exercise that explains how humans evolved to develop complex societies and the technology to deeply affect the biosphere of the planet. Swiping through the pages to visualise how we went from agriculture to the atomic bomb is informative, and it also shed a lot of knowledge on archaeology and sociology, so yeah, good read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Priyam Roy

    Wow - Where to begin? When I first started reading Origin Story, I had absolutely no idea that this book would grow to become one of my favourites. Trust me when I say that it is a nail-biter, I found it excruciatingly challenging to put down! Origin Story takes you on a journey through time, from the beginning of the universe at the Big Bang, to present day, and onwards into some likely scenarios for the future. It's difficult to praise this work without spoiling its contents, but I especially Wow - Where to begin? When I first started reading Origin Story, I had absolutely no idea that this book would grow to become one of my favourites. Trust me when I say that it is a nail-biter, I found it excruciatingly challenging to put down! Origin Story takes you on a journey through time, from the beginning of the universe at the Big Bang, to present day, and onwards into some likely scenarios for the future. It's difficult to praise this work without spoiling its contents, but I especially appreciated Mr. David Christian's discretion to explain complex scientific processes in layman's terms. As a POC, one aspect of the book I applaud is the due diligence the author gives to the atrocities committed by Europeans in the name of "progression". This book is factual, impartial, and thoroughly informative. I would recommend it to everyone.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brandy

    Multidisciplinary look at the modern origin story of humankind. It begins with the big bang (astrophysics, quantum mechanics, etc.) and talks about star formation and planet formation. Then it goes on to discuss the history of earth and of life on earth (biology, chemistry, geology, etc.), all the way through present times (economics, history, sociology, etc.). It finishes up by looking at possible futures for us and the universe as a whole. I don't normally get as engaged with non-fiction books, Multidisciplinary look at the modern origin story of humankind. It begins with the big bang (astrophysics, quantum mechanics, etc.) and talks about star formation and planet formation. Then it goes on to discuss the history of earth and of life on earth (biology, chemistry, geology, etc.), all the way through present times (economics, history, sociology, etc.). It finishes up by looking at possible futures for us and the universe as a whole. I don't normally get as engaged with non-fiction books, but this one was fascinating and truly puts the world and the universe into a different perspective for me. I highly, highly recommend this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tamim Ansary

    Christian really puts the "big" in "big history". Somehow this book achieves both sweep and detail. He gives us the universe as a story of energy and information interacting to generate ever-increasing complexity, and I'm sold. By the time he's done, I'm thinking, "Yeah: that's a pretty good way to look at it. Hard to think of any aspect of history that doesn't fit into that schema." As for meticulous, illuminating detail, look at his account of how life forms emerged from non-living matter: wow Christian really puts the "big" in "big history". Somehow this book achieves both sweep and detail. He gives us the universe as a story of energy and information interacting to generate ever-increasing complexity, and I'm sold. By the time he's done, I'm thinking, "Yeah: that's a pretty good way to look at it. Hard to think of any aspect of history that doesn't fit into that schema." As for meticulous, illuminating detail, look at his account of how life forms emerged from non-living matter: wow. I got this book from the library but after I read it I bought it: I wanted to have it around.

  17. 5 out of 5

    MaryBeth

    I'll be honest--it was a little difficult to concentrate on this as one of my summer selections, but I'm glad I did. The author is an engaging writer and I found myself carried along once I started. History and science are fascinating. Glad I picked it up.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gene

    Fascinating, well written, & full of information that you probably don’t know, but should. Makes you think, wonder, & want to learn more. Fascinating, well written, & full of information that you probably don’t know, but should. Makes you think, wonder, & want to learn more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    Very similar to his lecture series. My review of that can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Very similar to his lecture series. My review of that can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    In this expansive book, the author tries to explain the science behind how the galaxies were created, leading to the formation of our own planet and the subsequent substantial changes that produced the planet we know now. He then goes on to describe the development of life and the process that led to humankind taking effective charge of the biosphere. I found the book interesting and engrossing although at times I must admit that I got a bit lost with the science, especially at the time of the c In this expansive book, the author tries to explain the science behind how the galaxies were created, leading to the formation of our own planet and the subsequent substantial changes that produced the planet we know now. He then goes on to describe the development of life and the process that led to humankind taking effective charge of the biosphere. I found the book interesting and engrossing although at times I must admit that I got a bit lost with the science, especially at the time of the creation of stars and planets - but that is probably more down to me than to the author's explanations, never being much of a science buff myself! - 8/10.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Iman Shabani

    A pretty nice read indeed. Connecting the dots that we already know of, was done nicely in this book. Give it a read and you won't be disappointed.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Said AlMaskery

    A good topic, but written as an essay which makes it difficult to follow up. The introduction though was really nice.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rajesh Goradia

    The Origin Story is a great summary of David Christian's Big History Project - a field of study that integrates concepts from diverse silos of knowledge in order to explain the rising complexity in the universe – the pinnacle of which is represented by the human race. Through this story we come to terms with our chance existence, despite the law of entropy which predicts that disorder of a closed system should only increase. Each threshold – where something new emerges – requires more energy and The Origin Story is a great summary of David Christian's Big History Project - a field of study that integrates concepts from diverse silos of knowledge in order to explain the rising complexity in the universe – the pinnacle of which is represented by the human race. Through this story we come to terms with our chance existence, despite the law of entropy which predicts that disorder of a closed system should only increase. Each threshold – where something new emerges – requires more energy and a more improbable set of goldilocks conditions. This book takes us on 13.8 billion year journey through several thresholds - from the big bang, to the creation of the first atoms, to the biological formation of the first cells and DNA, to the evolution of cultural complexity resulting from the industrial revolution. Each step is marked by an increased need for free energy flows and increased fragility because of the more stringent conditions within which their existence is possible. The book highlights the common thread connecting all of us with the universe. We are all made up of congealed energy (atoms) – just like the stars, the planets, the oceans, the animals and the devices we create. We simply represent a more improbable and energy intensive arrangement of particular atoms. Our death may be the end of our story, but not the end of the parts that make us. In the broad narrative of the universe, we may be the most complex creatures, but we occupy an insignificant slice of time in the journey of the universe. Our continued existence is far from certain – in fact it is highly improbable. An asteroid or a volcano could destroy us. We could run out of energy. A biological virus could destroy our civilization. Humanity may evolve into a super race or be destroyed by one. The climate may run amok – like on Venus. The challenges that face us are immense, but so is our ability to find solutions. This book is not simply an attempt to look back at the evolution of the universe and locate our place in it. It is a bold attempt to create a radical sense of shared responsibility among humans in face of unprecedented challenges. It is an attempt to create a common origin story – a story shared by all humans regardless of their race, ethnicity and religion – in a daring effort to unite the human race in its quest for survival.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lis Carey

    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 y 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.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andy Klein

    This book is much overrated as is the so-called field of Big History. I kept thinking that this total is not the equal of the sum of its parts. This was a combination of Cosmos, A Short History of Nearly Everything, and Sapiens, but not even close to the equal of any of them. It succeeded best in its description of the creation of the universe, the sun, and Earth but went steadily downward as it shifted to sociology to be quite jarring. The book tried to do too much and succeeded in delivering t This book is much overrated as is the so-called field of Big History. I kept thinking that this total is not the equal of the sum of its parts. This was a combination of Cosmos, A Short History of Nearly Everything, and Sapiens, but not even close to the equal of any of them. It succeeded best in its description of the creation of the universe, the sun, and Earth but went steadily downward as it shifted to sociology to be quite jarring. The book tried to do too much and succeeded in delivering too little.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Martin Smrz

    Great book. Especially the history of Earth is delivered in very cohesive and clear way. The one star down is for a bit repetitive covering of industrial era. Otherwise this should be a history book in school to understand the history of our planet.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Arun

    excellent book that condenses the entire knowledge on universe into a delightful read

  28. 5 out of 5

    Vassiliki

    Very enjoyable read! Easy to follow, informative, and dense without being overwhelming.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tzutopia

    I needed this book in my life! I knew most of it already, but to read the entire story as a whole was terrific!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Angelique Simonsen

    This is one that makes you think especially the last chapters

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