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The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America Paperback – 2 Jan 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (2 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552998087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552998086
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,044 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.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Kerr TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Jan 2004
Format: Library Binding
I like Bill Bryson. For me, he has the greatest wit of any travel writer.
The Lost Continent is a very entertaining book anyway, but Kerry Shale brings the characters Bill meets to life. Take the Mississippi policeman Bill meets at some traffic lights. 'Yawwwwwwwwnnnn vaycayshun...? How'd'y'laaaaak Misuppy?' the cop asks. Bill has to ask him three times to repeat himself because he simply doesn't understand the outsize drawl the man has. Finally, he thanks the cop profusely for his patience and drives off, pondering the wisdom of giving such dangerously stupid people a gun and squad car...
Alongside these straightforward amusing vignettes, he does still make a lot of interesting observations about small-town America. He even lets on some of his secrets for saving money. When visiting Historic Williamsburg, don't drive up the main driveway cos that'll only cost money. Just drive round the back and you can get in for free...
Packed full of humour, observations and tips, this is ideal for listening to in the car, especially with Kerry Shale's inimitable voice. You'll find yourself imitating some of his best lines to yourself, and wondering how on earth they sound so much funnier when he says them!
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 Jan 2001
Format: Paperback
The first book by Bill Bryson I read was "A walk in the woods", and I could not imagine any book to be funnier and wittier. Then, one day, I saw "The lost continent", bought it, read it - and had to change my opinion. In this book, Iowa-born writer Bryson, who has moved to Great Britain some years ago, becomes homesick, borrows his mother's rusty car and makes a journey across small-town America. It was great fun reading and enjoying all those acerbic commentaries about everyday life in the U.S. On his journey, Bryson has to deal with lots of displeasant accidents - unfriendly waitresses, weird (and warty) gas station attendants, bad hotel rooms, ugly shopping malls everywhere, mentally retarded radio dj's (who are fond of playing "Hotel California" by the Eagles every ten minutes) and so on. His travel leads him to Cape Cod, the Grand Canyon and the Great Lakes, and there are lots of funny depictions of life in those places as well as worried remarks about fast-food culture throughout the U.S. You really can feel Bryson's affection for his home country, and that's why this book is so entertaining.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Peter Hobden on 17 Mar 2004
Format: Paperback
This book started a complete new genre of travel writing.
It appeared on the bookshelves unannounced some time ago.
It slowly began to gain momentum for Bryson purely on the strength of the quality writing and it's apparent new style.
It became a massive seller, as have many of his subsequent books.

Before Bryson travel books were DULL and polarised.
Byson took the shine off the glossy travel books and created a new type of writing - maybe REALITY travel writing?!

For those of you who went on cheap holidays, and visited poor `attractions` as a kid, this re-lives it all.

It's about America, but there are so many similarities in the UK. When something is c**p he tells it like it is; when it's quality, he also gives praise.

Brysons offerings since have been variable - now he knows he has an audience to please.

Many writers have tried to follow him; some more successful than others. Don't forget Bryson was there first.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 Feb 1999
Format: Paperback
I've just finished The Lost Continent and am still recovering from the experience. Bill Bryson's devastating wit and keen perceptions are right on target. I had tears rolling down my face, collapsing in helpless laughter when reading about tacky souvenir shops in Savannah and Gatlinburg and pig-out marathons in Pennyslvania Dutch restaurants and boring nonsense on historical markers. He never misses an opportunity to zing Americans for their lack of taste but he also lovingly describes scenic back roads and the few small towns that are still thriving, or are at least interesting (especially if they resist the lure of fast food chains and WalMarts). Anyone who went on endless car trips as a kid will definitely love this book. I must read more by Mr. Bryson!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Jun 1999
Format: Paperback
Bryson takes us on a journey through small town America, strictly on the by-roads, in search of that American Nirvana that he calls "Amalgum". Poignant comments and humourous reflections upon the new society on the way, together with many bizarre and macabre historical references make this an excellent holiday read.
For those who have ever travelled outside of the cities in the U.S., and witnessed the social mix which is as varied as the weather across this vast land, this will sate your appetite for a definitive view of American culture. Bryson sees what is now, and with subtle yet hilarious use of personal reflection and historical counterpoint manages to capture the essence of his America.
Excellent cadence, depth and colour. There is a little of him in all of us, and he knows well how to reach it. A beatifully sublime book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brawny Withed on 24 Sep 2011
Format: Paperback
Being a keen reader of Bill Bryson's books 'The Lost Continent' was one of his books I have probably picked up least often which is such a shame!

In the book Bryson takes a 13,978 mile roadtrip around the North, East, South and West of The United States in his Mother's car.

What I like about the book is that Bryson doesn't just visit and discuss the big cities he is actively looking for his fictional town of Amalgam a town which would be exactly like what he saw in the Films and TV shows of his childhood.

This being one of his earlier books where Bryson was still finding his style does prevent me scoring the book five stars.

That being said being filled with interesting anecdotes and his unique sense of humour I would highly recommend this book.
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