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Stephen Fry in America [Paperback]

Stephen Fry
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 May 2009

Britain's best-loved comic genius Stephen Fry turns his celebrated wit and insight to unearthing the real America as he travels across the continent in his black taxicab. Stephen's account of his adventures is filled with his unique humour, insight and warmth in the fascinating book that orginally accompanied his journey for the BBC1 series.

'Stephen Fry is a treasure of the British Empire.' - The Guardian

Stephen Fry has always loved America, in fact he came very close to being born there. Here, his fascination for the country and its people sees him embarking on an epic journey across America, visiting each of its 50 states to discover how such a huge diversity of people, cultures, languages, beliefs and landscapes combine to create such a remarkable nation.

Starting on the eastern seaboard, Stephen zig-zags across the country in his London taxicab, talking to its hospitable citizens, listening to its music, visiting its landmarks, viewing small-town life and America's breath-taking landscapes - following wherever his curiosity leads him.

Stephen meets a collection of remarkable individuals - American icons and unsung local heroes alike. Stephen starts his epic journey on the east coast and zig-zags across America, stopping in every state from Maine to Hawaii. En route he discovers the South Side of Chicago with blues legend Buddy Guy, catches up with Morgan Freeman in Mississippi, strides around with Ted Turner on his Montana ranch, marches with Zulus in New Orleans' Mardi Gras, and drums with the Sioux Nation in South Dakota; joins a Georgia family for thanksgiving, 'picks' with Bluegrass hillbillies, and finds himself in a Tennessee garden full of dead bodies.

Whether in a club for failed gangsters (yes, those are real bullet holes) or celebrating Halloween in Salem (is there anywhere better?), Stephen is welcomed by the people of America - mayors, sheriffs, newspaper editors, park rangers, teachers and hobos, bringing to life the oddities and splendours of each locale.

A celebration of the magnificent and the eccentric, the beautiful and the strange, Stephen Fry in America is our author's homage to this extraordinary country.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (28 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007266359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007266357
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Fry is one of Britain's national treasures and his television appearances include 'A Bit Of Fry and Laurie', 'Jeeves and Wooster', 'Blackadder', 'QI' and 'Kingdom'. His film roles include 'Peter's Friends' and 'Wilde'; and in the realm of television, the Emmy-award-winning 'The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive'. As a writer, he best known for his novel The Liar as well as his acclaimed autobiography Moab Is My Washpot, and his is the famous voice of the Harry Potter audio books.

Product Description


'A fascinating look at one of the world's most complex and confusing countries, this is a story told with the wit and warmth we expect from Fry.' Stoke on Trent Sentinel

‘A very funny take on life across the pond.’
BAA Emporium

From the Author

  • Lobster fishing in Maine.
  • Electioneering with Mitt Romney for the New Hampshire primaries.
  • Went to a real witch’s ball at Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween.
  • Sailed an Admiral Cup winning yacht in Rhode Island.
  • Went down into a nuclear submarine in Connecticut.
  • Mixed my own Ben and Jerry’s flavour in Vermont.
  • Went deer hunting in upstate New York.
  • Hung out with ancient toothless wise guys from the old days in the borough of Queen’s, New York; drove Sting down Broadway.
  • Learned to deal Blackjack in the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City New Jersey
  • Zoomed round Washington DC in a Segway.
  • Went to the Veteran’s Day ceremony in Arlington, Virginia with VP Dick Cheney.
  • Went down a coal mine in West Virginia.
  • Sold a thoroughbred yearling and got insanely ratted in a bourbon distillery in Kentucky.
  • Picked with Bluegrass hillbillies and found myself in a garden full of dead bodies in Tennessee. Was appointed an official duckmaster in Memphis, an honour I share with Kevin Bacon and Oprah Winfrey.
  • Went ballooning over the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina.
  • Enjoyed Thanksgiving in a grand plantation house in Georgia.
  • Went to a gay bar in Georgia and watched a drag act ... "Honey, there’s more of us than you’d believe."
  • Watched a college football game in Alabama that was bigger than the FA Cup final. 100,000 in the stadium, two hundred thousand crowded outside it.
  • Sat in court in Montgomery as families pleaded for their children’s parole.
  • Swam with dolphins and danced with snowbirds in Florida.
  • Marched with the Zulus on Mardi Gras in New Orleans, was blessed at a voodoo ceremony (or possibly cursed). Witnessed the horrors of Hurricane Katrina in the Lower Ninth Ward.
  • Went oystering down in the gulf of Mexico and farmed with murderers and lifers at the Angola state penitentiary in the rest of Louisiana.
  • Canoed along the Mississippi in Arkansas.
  • Sat and talked about the blues with Morgan Freeman in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
  • Watched the girls of Clarksdale High lose a basketball match.
  • Hung out in the ice and snow amongst the homeless in St Louis, Missouri.
  • Had my brain examined by a Maharishi psychologist at the Maharishi University in Iowa. Went nuts trying to find alcohol in Vedic City, Iowa, a city founded by followers of the Maharishi.
  • Rode with the fire brigade in Elkhart, Indiana. Looked a dick in the uniform. Breathing apparatus got stuck on me.
  • Rode a Model T-Ford around Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village, Michigan.
  • Discovered the South Side of Chicago with blues legend Buddy Guy.
  • Cast and buffed and dipped and polished a genuine Oscar at the factory where they are made in Chicago.
  • Improved with the Second City revue.
  • Milked sheep in Wisconsin and was pulled in an Amish sled.
  • Went ice-fishing in Minnesota and caught a fish.
  • Strode around with Ted Turner on his Montana ranch and inspected his herd of buffalo.
  • Helicoptered over the Canadian border with the National Border Patrol.
  • Poured water over Idaho to demonstrate the nature of the continental divide.
  • Was pulled by huskies in Wyoming.
  • Ate German food at a diner in Bismarck, North Dakota.
  • Stayed on the Lakota Sioux reservation in South Dakota and drummed with the young braves.
  • Went trucking in Nebraska.
  • Went down a missile bunker in Kansas.
  • To a rodeo in Oklahoma.
  • Attended an Indian Pow Pow in Denver and caused an explosion on the slopes at Aspen, Colorado.
  • Drove along the Rio Grande with Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas and watched Mexicans trying to smuggle themselves over the border.
  • In New Mexico went to Los Alamos where the first Atom bomb was made; ballooned along a canyon and went inside an earth ship.
  • Barbecued with the Navajo deep inside Monument Valley and had a Navajo weaving lesson.
  • In Nevada played a spy game in Las Vegas and found myself in a legal brothel outside Reno talking to well breasted women.
  • Flew in a WW2 B17 bomber from Phoenix to Tucson, Arizona and played a scene in a western in the old Tucson studios. Got shot. Death scene lasted 12 minutes, nearly a Tucson record. Beaten by Deforest Kelley, later Dr McCoy, in a B western.
  • Drank wine in California’s Napa Valley, chewed the fat with Jony Ive, designer of the iMac, iPod and iPhone. Shot a .44 magnum in Ukiah, California, guest of the sheriff.
  • Raided a marijuana farm in Mendocino County.
  • Camped out in a place known to be frequented by Big Foot, the Sasquatch in Grant’s Pass, Oregon.
  • Swam with sea otters and seals in Seattle, Washington. Said goodbye to the taxi.
  • Went fishing in and looking for bears in Kodiak, Alaska. Went north to the arctic circle and skidooed with some Eskimos.
  • Went to an observatory in the tallest mountain in the world in Hawaii. Canoed like in the title sequence of Hawaii 5 O. Flew over lava field and watched new bits of America, five acres a week, being made as the molten lava hit the sea. Swam with sharks, flew a microlite around the islands.

And more, so so so much more you wouldn’t believe.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Facing the Introduction to this book is a picture of a satisfied "Steve" (Fry's American alter-ego) enjoying a strawberry milkshake in a typical American diner. This sets the tone for what follows.

Fry's Great American Journey is both idiosyncratic and insightful. He present's the country as he finds it: take it or leave it. You be the judge. No doubt some will be disappointed by what is not included, but that is part of the nature of the USA that Fry tries to convey: it is too large and eclectic for anyone (even natives like myself) to get to know all it.

The United States is a giant grab-bag of a nation. Everytime you dip into it you pull out something different: strange, new, old, delightful, appaling or simply intriguing. You cannot stereotype a nation of 300 million people descended from the scrambled cultures of the world and spread over thousands of miles of varying terrain. To his great credit "Stephen" Fry does not attempt to do so. Here is one celebrity travelogue worth reading.
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74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stephen goes Stateside 1 Oct 2008
By Paul Everdark VINE VOICE
"Oh no, not ANOTHER travel book, written by some jumped-up celebrity hoofing it around some unheard of corner of the world, almost gloating at me, saying 'Look where I am, you're not here, ha ha'...oh, hang on! Stephen Fry, is it? I quite like him. And he's in America? Hmmm...I'm intrigued."
And that's how this book made it into my hands. I don't usually go for books like these, but because it's Stephen Fry, I took the plunge. Am I ever glad I did.
Stephen Fry travels across USA's 50 states on a mission: to discover the real America. As a country everyone seems to have an opinion on, this comes as being very timely. Is the stereotype of the 'Fat Dumb Yankee' fact or fiction?
In the hands of any other author, such a journey would be dull and cliched, always ending with the inevitable 'my perception's completely changed' wrap-up. But such is Stephen Fry's voice, intelligence and wit, that his writing leaps out at you, and you can almost hear his voice booming in your ear as he guides you from Maine to Hawaii in a black cab. His observations and opinions are wonderful; insightful yet humourous, thoughtful yet sharp. What's best is that it allows you to draw your own conclusions. All the evidence is laid out before the reader: it's up to you to make your own assumptions.

This is a book that could be recommended to practically anyone and everyone: it's big, full of lavish pictures and crammed with facts, and can be either dipped into or read cover to cover. It's a perfect companion piece to the upcoming TV series. Brilliant.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars America- lite 5 Aug 2009
By M. J. Saxton VINE VOICE
A very heavy book full of not very much information. It matches the TV series because that felt like it was a quick skip through the USA as well.

It's a very frustrating book to read. There is just enough information to make you to read more, but it just isn't there. Some of the States are given woefully small page space, much as they were given short shrift in the series.

The lack of meaty text makes it difficult to wade through. You read it hoping for more, wanting detailed description and less bloody "wit". No matter how much Stephen Fry tells you he's in love with the country that doesn't come across from what he's writing.

And it is such a heavy book, weighs a ton, thick paper, all giving the impression of a weighty tome and yet with so little in it. A real shame.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Cover to Shining Cover 2 Nov 2008
Having read the three and four star reviews, I had second-thoughts about purchasing 'Stephen Fry in America'. But after purchasing the book on the back of watchin three episodes of the TV programme I was compelled to write a review and it is one of 5 stars, as I'm sure you may be aware of! I can tell you my friends, that this well put together travelogue of a quintessentially Englishman's journey through and into the heart of America is almost definitely a book everyone who 'views' this item on amazon should purchase.
I don't want to slate the former reviews (apart from the 5 star one, great outlook ol' chum) because they're entitled to create their own opinions but they are wrong! To quote Mike D of the Beastie Boys, "I don't speak what I hear, I just say what I know" and this will form the basis of my own review, which I hope will prove informative and may tip the balance in favour of you buying this book. And I am an independent source, I'm not on Stephen Fry's payroll (NB* If he has one, can somebody please get in touch with me).
Firstly, the price of this book, as of 2/10/08 (or to be topical 10/02/08), on Amazon is 9, which is 1 cheaper than the low price of ASDA and Waterstones, is very reasonable especially seeing as it is in hardback and vibrant in colour, and perhaps more central, priceless with in the qualitative and quantitative information it is crammed with.
Fry starts off in Maine, following an interesting and humorous introduction. From the off, one can simply tell that this tale is going to be an insightful and intriguing journey through all 50 states. Fry does not fail to miss out the `little man' which he seems to stress as being so important in the fabric of the American global blanket.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely perfect service
We left our first book on a plane half read so bought this for 1p! Perfect service and book in excellent condition. Wonder if I will ever pay right price again!
Published 6 months ago by pam scammell
1.0 out of 5 stars Sales glitch
This was my first ever disappointment in an Amazon purchase.

I ordered the paperback copy because no hardback version was indicated on the Amazon front page... Read more
Published 8 months ago by NewPud
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Given Fry's obvious talents in other fields, this is a disappointing effort and compares, rather unfavourably, with, for example, similar books by Bill Bryson.
Published 12 months ago by David Mulrine
4.0 out of 5 stars More a celebration of people than place.
A wonderful coffee table book that is more a celebration of people than place.

The book was obviously published as a companion to the TV series, having never seen the... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mark Sean Tynan
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book
This book was in excellent condition on arrival. It arrived between the times & dates specified and I am so pleased with it. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Louise Ward
4.0 out of 5 stars Get ready for a great ride!
Strange as it may sound, I've never been particularly curious about America until I recently finished The Twilight Saga (!!!) which made me want to learn more about the country. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Rosetwine
5.0 out of 5 stars Very much appreciated
We had this book delivered directly to a friend who had been unable to fly to America at the last minute due to illness. He loved it and itvmadeca good consolation prize!
Published 14 months ago by bubbles
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Bought this as a birthday present for my daughter's school friend. She loved it and so did all her family.
Published 15 months ago by sandra preece
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Entertaining
I have often had mixed feelings about Stephen Fry and his popularity with the public at large, so when I opened my birthday present to find that it was the hardback edition of his... Read more
Published 16 months ago by NumptyDumpty
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT READ !
Published 16 months ago by tina jones
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