Cover of Beginnings
Book 370 General Science 1987
Did Comets Kill the Dinosaurs? Atlantis
3 spaceships-and-suns
Asimov fan
3 spaceships-and-suns
Target reader


How did the Universe originate? What casued sea creatures to evolve into land creatures? When and how did the moon emerge? Where did the first human civilizations appear? Who was the first human being to fly, long before the Wright brothers?


Here is a a wondrous excursion through 15 billion years of human and prehuman history by America’s most popular and exciting science writer, Isaac Asimov. From the flashing birth of the universe to planetary systems, from algae to reptiles, Asimov covers the infinite and the microscopic in rich detail. Even if you’ve never known the difference between a proton and a neutron or a nebulae [sic] and a dwarf star, Beginnings makes it all abundantly clear—and absolutely fascinating.


As the title might reasonably be expected to imply, this is a book about where things came from or how things started. It’s written in a rather surprising fashion, however, in that it works backwards. Instead of starting with the beginning of the Universe, it starts with the beginning of manned flight, then to the beginning of human history, then of mankind, and so on, with the beginning of the Universe not covered until chapter 24.

The book is, of course, well written, and it covers an awful lot of ground in terms of chemistry, physics, biology, astronomy, and so on in order to tell its full story. My one gripe, perhaps, is its organization. This is one of these places where Asimov varies how he tells a story just for the heck of it, just to make things more interesting for him as a writer. As usual, the technique falls pretty flat with me and I’d just as soon he started in the other fashion, although this allows him to build to a particularly good climax as the book goes backwards, so I suppose it’s just as well.

That’s a quibble anyway. It’s still an excellent book.

(One observation. The paperback edition carefully informs us on the cover that Isaac Asimov is a New York Times Bestselling Author. One wonders just how many people out there were convinced to buy it on that recommendation alone. The typical experience is that the fact it’s by Isaac Asimov is usually enough to get people to fork out cash.)

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