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Made In America

Made In America [Kindle Edition]

Bill Bryson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Bill Bryson's "Informal History of the English Language in the United States" is, in a word, fascinating. After reading this tour de force, it's clear that a nation's language speaks volumes about its true character: you are what you speak. Bryson traces America's history through the language of the time, then goes on to discuss words culled from everyday activities: immigration, eating, shopping, advertising, going to the movies, and others.

Made in America will supply you with interesting facts and cocktail chatter for a year or more. Did you know, for example, that Teddy Roosevelt's "speak softly and carry a big stick" credo has its roots in a West African proverb? Or that actor Walter Matthau's given name is Walter Mattaschanskayasky? Or that the supposedly frigid Puritans--who called themselves "Saints," by the way--had something called a pre-contract, which was a license for premarital sex? Made in America is an excellent discussion of American English, but what makes the book such a treasure is that it offers much, much more.


"A tremendously sassy work, full of zip, pizzazz and all those other great American qualities" (Will Self Independent on Sunday)

"Immensely entertaining... a sharp eye for odd facts and amusing anecdotes" (Michael Sheldon Daily Telegraph)

"The book is a triumph. Bryson carries it off by his joie de vivre, his unadorned prose and the sheer width of his snooping beneath the skin of the American dream" (Literary Review)

"Funny, wise, learned and compulsive" (GQ)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1274 KB
  • Print Length: 493 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital; New Ed edition (2 Mar 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552998052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552998055
  • ASIN: B0035OC7JU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #11,149 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. Settled in England for many years, he moved to America with his wife and four children for a few years ,but has since returned to live in the UK. His bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent, Notes From a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods and Down Under. His acclaimed work of popular science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Aventis Prize and the Descartes Prize, and was the biggest selling non-fiction book of the decade in the UK.

Photography © Julian J

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More nuggets than a gold rush 14 Jan 2001
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
A very impressively researched and entertaining book. It sets out as an exploration of what happened to the English language when it got to North America, and achieves this goal admirably. However, it also provides a wealth of insights into the growth phases and catalysts which caused the US economy to grow to the super power it is today. This aspect of the book provides (perhaps unwittingly) many valuable historical perspectives on recent internet- driven developments - and how they may pan out. I read 'Mother Tongue' first. 'Made in America' is a perfect follow up.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Offers a lot in a single book 28 Jan 2004
To be honest, I always associated Bill Bryson with light travel books, so I was pleasantly suprised to find his refreshing writing style applied to etymology; not always the easiest topic to entertain with!
Having said that, there is so much more than etymology. The anecdotes are amusing, and you will find yourself repeating them to everyone you know. The work that debunks urban myths is fascinating and, as is often the case, fact is stranger than fiction; some of the truths behind words and phrases are truly special.
The lists of when words were first used did not appeal to me personally, although I am perfectly willing to believe that there are people out there who would be interested, but they are fairly easy to skip.
The one thing I take away from this book more than anything else is respect for American English. As a young Englishman, I have been pre-conditioned into a certain disregard for 'Americanisms'. Yet after reading this book, you will see how useful many of these words are, and the ones we choose to attack are very limited. I think the book is worth reading for this information alone.
In conclusion, a good read that you can take your time over.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect mixture of words and wisdom! 26 Mar 2001
By A Customer
As an American having spent years in both England and Ireland, I thoroughly enjoyed this book exploring the American usage of the English language. Bryson, as only he can, relates many of the untold stories of the founding of the United States and how as a society we morphed the language to fit our ever-changing needs. He takes us on a journey through the events that enlivened and matured our language into what it is today.
Interesting, light-hearted yet immensely learned- it is the type of book you'll be referencing and discussing at dinner parties for years to come. Brilliantly written to appeal to readers on both sides of the pond.
While different from the travel books that Bryson is so famous for, this new genre of writing is no less wonderful.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most read book on my bookshelf 2 Aug 2002
I read first read this book a few years ago but still find myself going back to it time and again. My copy is so well thumbed it is falling apart. Billed as a history of American English, this book is much more than that. It is one of those books which entertains and informs. I learned more about American history from this book than I did from a whole set of textbooks on the topic. I would recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone. It is his best book by far.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chivers Audiobook Complete & Unabridged 26 Aug 2006
Format:Audio CD
For a description of the book itself see the paperback version. Suffice to say if you are reading this entry then you probally want the audiobook specifically. This really is complete and unabridged and comes as one of those chivers audio packs you sometimes get in libraries aimed I think at the hard of sight. It is not in a standard CD case like regular audiobooks. This is read as are 'The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America' & 'Notes From a Big Country' by William Roberts. Comes on 14Cd's divided into approximately 5 minute chapters on each for ease of finding your 'bookmark'.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 23 Sep 2004
This is quite an engaging read. Approaching primarily it because of my interest in language and also in American culture, I was not disappointed by this work which offers the reader information on such diverse topics as travel, immigration and American food. Principally of a linguistic focus, it traces some of the etymological history of some of the more common (and uncommon) terms in the American and English languages. A worthwile read, and enjoyable too.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great! 6 Jan 2003
By A Customer
I think I read too many English boarding-school books when I was a kid. At least I got a snobbish attitude about the superiority of British English over American English from somewhere.
This book was a revalation, it showed me that my snobbishness was just that, and without foundation. Things that I had firmly believed, like that 'trash' was an Americanism, were swept away (and now I think, what would it matter if it were?).
Made In America is full of fascinating detail. I couldn't stop myself from reading passage after passage out loud, and I've bought copies for gifts. Anyone with an interest in language, history, or culture would get a kick out of this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book from Bryson 14 Aug 2010
Let me start by saying: I'm a huge Bryson fan. I've read most of his books and each has taught me something and made me laugh out loud: any book that can do that has to be worth a read.

This book is ostensibly about Americanisms but actually delves into about American history, culture and society to give the background of words that the U.S. has brought to the English language. There is tons of trivia and many amusing anecdotes and the book had me hooked from start to finish.

Buy this!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 6 days ago by gibson
4.0 out of 5 stars American history as of now
Love Bryson's books and this one is up there
Educational certainly but so much more and of interest to residents as much as visitors
Published 2 months ago by Andrew M. Dickson
4.0 out of 5 stars The Origins of the Common Language....
The strengths of Bill Bryson are his wry and good natured sense of humour and the depth and application of his research. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Adrian Maxwell
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Usual Bill Bryson standard though not as witty as some of his other books. Lots of interesting facts about America and where it came from but not a flowing read.
Published 9 months ago by barmy
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Educational And (At The Same Time) Hilarious
This 1994 work by Bill Bryson is probably the most impressive (funny and educational) non-travel book I have read by this most infectious of authors. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Keith M
4.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive history of the mangled English language.
I felt the final chapter let this down, being a summary of how the education system in America isn't all that bad. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr. M. G. Blake
1.0 out of 5 stars .
Quite good this series of books are fantastic easy to read for beginners or english learners. Kids just love it
Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
So many interesting facts, stories and events. Loved it. I need to read more of Mr Bryson's work as this was brilliant.
Published 14 months ago by Top
5.0 out of 5 stars good indepth book on life in the US
I'm travelling in the US this year and Bill Bryson always gives a humourous story of places to visit and how to understand all differences in our cultures.
Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Very dull for long stretches
I like Bryson's travelogues like 'Notes from a small island' and 'Neither here nor there'. However this is completely different, being for the most part a history of the evolution... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Terrahurtz
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