My Review of "At Home" by Bill Bryson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I found this book to be very illuminating. It is well-researched, but it reads more like a conversation than a history treatise. Bryson introduces characters who recur in the story, but in different roles. The end result is a fullness of understanding that is beyond the sum of the facts. In short, you are immersed in their history through their lives.
One thought I had towards the end - after the discussion of how children are treated - is how people will look on us in the future. Certainly our society will seem strange to them too, right? I actually spent the last chapter with this in my mind and it may have taken away from the discussion of the landed gentry's troubles, along with the plight of the good parson.
It was a very enjoyable book. I do enjoy his style and it's inevitable that it suffers a comparison to "A Short History of Nearly Everything", which is imnsho, one of the best books for non-scientists to explain the world/universe/life/primordial history and for scientists to speak to other people about what they know. At Home pales a bit by comparison, but its value at framing ourselves in the context of human history is undeniable.
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Brilliant, if somewhat daunting, but altogether worthwhile. I was shocked to learn as much as I did.