Absolutely Everything! is the latest book from author Christopher Lloyd. I received a copy of the audiobook through Net Galley and was pretty happy because I’d already had it on my wish list. Absolutely Everything! is the latest attempt by an author to succinctly cover the most important moments in the history of the world. This book starts with the Big Bang and runs through today. The audiobook is narrated by Lloyd himself.
I always like to view this genre of pop-history books as mostly entertainment, rather than educational. There’s just so much ground to cover in a 6-hour listen (the book is around 350 pages) that Lloyd can’t spend much time on any single period before moving on to the next. Roughly the first half of the book is spent covering the origins of the Earth and leading up through the most prominent ancient civilizations like China, India, Rome, and Greece. From there, as written history of periods was more readily available, Lloyd expands the information a bit. That should feel familiar to anyone who’s read a book like this previously. There ends up being a big focus on the last 300 years of modern society because there are libraries full of information available about the period.
One pitfall of these kinds of books is generally that they mistake the history of white people in Western Europe for the history of the whole world in the last few millennia. In Absolutely Everything!, Lloyd acknowledges this tendency. It’s easy to tell that Lloyd was cognizant about portraying the devastating ills of colonization alongside the contribution it had in shaping the modern world as we know it. It’s still not a perfect balance, but it’s a sign of improvement and honestly was better than I would have expected going in.
Given that I treat books like Absolutely Everything! as entertainment, I guess the most pressing question is whether I found the book entertaining. The answer to that is yes. Lloyd does about as good a job as one can balancing the depth of investigation given the page space available. From an audiobook perspective, Lloyd is an effective narrator. Some authors aren’t made for narration, but Lloyd might actual be a value-added element as a narrator. Absolutely Everything! is an engaging bit of pop-history. If you’re looking to learn something new and maybe spark curiosity in something you can dive deeper into, I’d recommend giving it a listen or a read.