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One Summer: America 1927 [Hardcover]

Bill Bryson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (306 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
Price: 9.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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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 (306 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,141 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
33 of 36 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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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One (weird) Summer, America 1927 15 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is Bryson at his best; witty, balanced, and immensely well researched. The contrast between the smug self-confidence of the USA and the social upheavals in Europe and in Britain in particular one year after the General Strike, at times make painful reading. In style and content it really deserves five stars, but I found many of the technicalities of baseball heavy going. My fault, of course, but I think a straightforward glossary of the game's terminology would have helped the English reader enjoy the book more.
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12 of 13 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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84 of 94 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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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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Bought as a gift so am not in a position to comment.
Published 23 hours ago by Ronnie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good read with lots of amazing stories and facts - a typical Bryson book
Published 1 day ago by Colin Marshall
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bryson always good, inspired me to write myself in fact; Looking For parking in the UAE. Watch this space.
Published 2 days ago by R. James
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Bryson!
Bill Bryson does it again! Any fan of Bill's writing will not be disappointed. Full of facts, trivia, insights into a period of history that didn't affect just America. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Astrid Clarke
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book!
An amazing book about an amazing year.
In his customary well researched style, Bill Bryson has given us a history which is not only entertaining but insightful and genuinely... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Jayne S.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
not read a bad BB book yet
Published 6 days ago by Mrt. A.Webster
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Is there nothing Bill Bryson can't make interesting?
Published 6 days ago by Andy Mahoney
4.0 out of 5 stars A cracking read
Well up to Bryson's usual standard, 1927 is a fascinating portrait of pivotal moment in 20th century history.
Published 8 days ago by gradese
3.0 out of 5 stars It's an ok read but nothing like his best
It's an ok read but nothing like his best, it flits about too much so you're never sure what year you are in and unless you know about and are interested in baseball way too much... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Iain McConnachie
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book even if you think 1927 is not of interest to you, you...
I cannot put this down. How does he do it? Takes a year, 1927, and spins a facinating tale that goes everywhere and yet does not ramble aimlessly. Read more
Published 10 days ago by L. Arnold
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