One Summer by Bill Bryson One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson
Narrator: the author
Published by Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group on October 1, 2013
Source: Library
Genres: History
Length: 17 hrs 3 mins
Format: Audiobook
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four-half-stars

Britain's favourite writer of narrative non-fiction Bill Bryson travels back in time to a forgotten summer when America came of age, took centre stage, and, in five eventful months, changed the world for ever.

In the summer of 1927, America had a booming stock market, a president who worked just four hours a day (and slept much of the rest of the time), a semi-crazed sculptor with a mad plan to carve four giant heads into an inaccessible mountain called Rushmore, a devastating flood of the Mississippi, a sensational murder trial, and a youthful aviator named Charles Lindbergh who started the summer wholly unknown and finished it as the most famous man on earth. (So famous that Minnesota considered renaming itself after him.)

It was the summer that saw the birth of talking pictures, the invention of television, the peak of Al Capone's reign of terror, the horrifying bombing of a school in Michigan by a madman, the ill-conceived decision that led to the Great Depression, the thrillingly improbable return to greatness of a wheezing, over-the-hill baseball player named Babe Ruth, and an almost impossible amount more.

In this hugely entertaining book, Bill Bryson spins a story of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy, with a cast of unforgettable and eccentric characters, with trademark brio, wit and authority.

I loved One Summer by Bill Bryson. I may have already told my mom she should read it. Unfortunately, I can’t just let her borrow mine since a.) I listened to the audio version and b.) I borrowed it from the library.

I’m not a history buff or a sports buff. I’ve only read one of Bryson’s books before, Shakespeare, but I was looking for a non-fiction read and One Summer caught my eye. I’m so glad I picked it up.

You can tell from the blurb that a lot happened between May and September 1927. People and events I’ve heard of, and some I haven’t. Bryson takes two of the famous men from the era, Charles Lindbergh and Babe Ruth, and tells not only their stories but the story of the time, the inventions, the politics, the deaths, the bad but mostly the good. It’s a fun book full of little bits of information. I may have told my family way more about 1927 in the last week or two than they ever needed to know.

It a wide-ranging story, covering so many people and topics that’s it’s hard to remember them all, but that was part of the fun for me. Bryson’s just a great story-teller and I think listening to the audio enhanced that.

And it’s a perfect summertime read.

This counts as 3 pts in the COYER Treasure Hunt (book that takes place during the summer).

About Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. A backpacking expedition in 1973 brought him to England where he met his wife and decided to settle. He wrote for the English newspapers, The Times and The Independent, for many years, writing travel articles to supplement his income. He lived with his family in North Yorkshire before moving back to the States in 1995, to Hanover, New Hampshire, with his wife and four children. In 2003, he and his family moved back to England, where they currently reside.

The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson’s hilarious first travel book, chronicles a trip in his mother’s Chevy around small town America. Since then, he has written several more, including notable bestsellers, A Walk in the Woods, I’m A Stranger Here Myself (published in Britain as Notes from a Big Country), and In a Sunburned Country (published in Britain as Down Under).

His other books include Bill Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, Made in America, The Mother Tongue and Bill Bryson’s African Diary, A Short History of Nearly Everything, The Life and Times of Thunderbolt Kid and At Home.

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