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One Summer: America 1927 [Hardcover]

Bill Bryson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (410 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Sep 2013

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.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (26 Sep 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0385608284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385608282
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (410 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Product Description


"Bill Bryson is a true master of popular narrative. Over the course of his career, he has bestowed a beautiful clarity on even the most recondite of subjects...Has history ever been so enjoyable?" (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)

"A fascinating snapshot of a season during which America, for better or worse, ushered in the modern world." (Sunday Times)

"A gifted raconteur...The book is filled with eccentric, flamboyant characters and memorable stories...highly amusing." (Guardian)

"A great new form of literature: biography of a few months in one country." (Matt Ridley The Times (Books of the Year))

"Few writers of nonfiction, and,let's be honest,few enough writers of novels, can crack the narrative whip like Bryson. One Summer fairly whirls along...full of exhilarating, fact-filled fun...surely the most sublime distraction published this year." (Observer)

Book Description

Let Bill Bryson take you back to a forgotten summer when America came of age and changed the world for ever: and show you why he is our favourite writer of narrative non-fiction.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent education 19 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I am a massive fan of Bill Bryson's writing, I have read all of his books and thoroughly enjoyed them, they've made me laugh and I've learned a lot. I was very excited to receive an advance review copy of his latest book, and I set about read it right away. Now it is a massive book, very heavy so it didn't fit in my handbag. In the end I read the book until the audiobook that I had pre-ordered downloaded and then I finished it off in audiobook format. I had the best of both worlds-the audiobook is read by bill Bryson and I could listen to it in the car on my commute, and the hardback is gorgeous with wonderful photographs, a super storable cover and a nice stocky length of book!

I really enjoyed this latest book. Although it wasn't as funny as some of his other writing, I learnt an awful lot about America during this period, a time that I actually learnt about during my history GCSE! The structure of the book was one of the things I enjoyed the most. Everything linked into something else. Lindbergh crossing the ocean had an impact on one thing and president Coolidge deciding not to run for president had an impact on something else, it was well structured and chronological at the same time. Bryson knows when a reader is likely to get fed up of one subject and swiftly moves onto another subject.

Even though this is a history of America and I live in the UK it stil, had an impact on things like television, war, flight, cars and so It was really interesting to learn about the origin and development of many of these things. I found the sections on prohibition and the movie industry really enjoyable and my knowledge of baseball has increased now by at east one thousand percent!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly stodgy 21 Nov 2013
By Claretta VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Everyone knows what an entertaining writer Bryson is, but if you read this expecting it to be side-splittingly funny I think you will be disappointed. While it is full of interesting nuggets it also sags badly at times. In particular, there is WAY too much about minor aviators who all start to sound the same. In fact, there is a bit too much of everything. Bryson clearly did a huge amount of research and you get the feeling he couldn't bear to leave anything out. So just as you are getting interested in Al Capone he veers off onto another tangent and you lose the thread. That's not to say there isn't some compelling stuff in the book, but overall I didn't think it lived up to his usual high standards of wit and entertainment.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Is there any kind of book that couldn't be improved a thousandfold by getting Bill Bryson to write it? Already my favourite-books-list includes 'Mother Tongue' a glorious history of the English language, 'A Short History of Everything,' which wraps up a thousand years of science and 'At Home' which is a cosy history of domesticity. And I've lost count of the number of times I've recommended Bryson's 'Shakespeare'. So that's linguistics, science, and literary biography to add to the canon of travel books that Bryson is best known for, and now here he is with an off the wall volume of American History that packs about half a million little-known facts about the American Summer of 1927 into five hundred pages and somehow ends up creating the most compelling book I've read since ... well probably since the last Bill Bryson book.

Bryson has stumbled upon a magical and pivotal summer in US history, and in his infectious, folksy style he takes us on a romp from May to September introducing a riotous cast of characters that you simply couldn't invent. Take the writer Zane Grey, for example, who earned a third of a million dollars from his books in 1927. Bryson reveals that Grey's hobbies included compiling detailed journals of his sexual exploits, and being photographed in the act. 'Edgar Rice Burroughs,' Bryson tells us, 'had a tamer life than Grey - but then, after all, who didn't?' It is this deliciously conversational style, a compote of statistics and gossip, that makes this book so compulsively readable. The summer is bookended by two events that gripped the consciousness of America - Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic, and Babe Ruth's record breaking season with a baseball bat.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Return to form for Mr Bryson 5 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a long time fan of Bill Bryson who was beginning to think that his great days were past, this was a welcome return to something close to the form of old. A wonderful mixture of straight history and the grotesque. Though not laugh out loud, it was engaging and entertaining. Recommended.
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85 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Bryson does it again..... 27 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have always found Bill Bryson to be one of the most consistent authors around; I await each of his books with eager anticipation and I am yet to be disappointed.

And so it is with "One Summer: America 1927".

The book itself has striking cover art and weighs in at an impressive 560 pages; the prologue and epilogue are separated by five main sections:

1. May: The Kid
2. June: The Babe
3. July: The President
4. August: The Anarchists
5. September: Summer's End

These in turn are then divided into a large number of chapters.

There are also nearly fifty glossy photographs split across two sections; these are great and really helped bring the text to life.

The book is written very much in the style we have come to expect from Bill Bryson, warm and funny whilst providing a constant stream of fascinating information, some of it well known but much of it new to me.

The concept itself of taking just a few months at a pivotal time in America's history is very clever and it really is fascinating to learn just how much was happening at that time; America was gripped with the pioneer spirit and it was quickly realising that it had the wealth and resources to do pretty much anything it wanted, and it did!

At the end of the book there is a section titled "Notes on Sources and Further Reading"; this is a brilliant addition and provides a wealth of recommended reading material to further the experience.

As with Bill Bryson's superb A Short History Of Nearly Everything this book manages to provide the reader with a detailed history lesson, yet at the same time it is incredibly accessible and makes the experience of learning fun, I just wish we had Bill Bryson writing our history books when I was at school (perhaps I would have gotten a better grade!).

Bring on Bill's next book!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Close, but no cigar!
What a well researched work. It is a pity that he didn't acknowledge the fact that the BBC had started a regular TV service in 1936.
Published 12 hours ago by Nat Lees
1.0 out of 5 stars Overlong, filled with irrelevant asides. If you're interested ...
Overlong, filled with irrelevant asides. If you're interested in baseball and early aviation, this is the book for you. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Fatherspride
3.0 out of 5 stars I have read Bill Bryson's other books and have enjoyed them. This one...
I have read Bill Bryson's other books and have enjoyed them. This one was not what I had expected. I have not finished it but may go back to it.
Published 2 days ago by Catherine Ann Howard
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good writer
Published 2 days ago by roy french
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent detailed read.
Published 2 days ago by Chris
4.0 out of 5 stars A piece of time
An interesting take on one year that typified American history. Interesting and thought provoking as well as having a dry wit.
Published 3 days ago by Alexandre G
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book. A mine of information. I love all his books.
Published 3 days ago by David Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Bryson: recommended.
Fascinating facts, superb storytelling, interesting insights and charismatic characters make for a great summer read.

The bonus for me is the epilogue. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Chris Pearson
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Bryson,does it again.
Brilliant book full of interesting facts,put together in typical Bryson manner,never boring often amusing,a great read. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Peter Jackson
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm a Bill Bryson fan anyway.
Informative, humorous.
Published 4 days ago by ia
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