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4.2 out of 5 stars213
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 31 January 2001
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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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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VINE VOICEon 14 April 2010
I beleive this is BB's first travelogue, and I have only just got round to reading it, after finding it buried in the depths of my collection of "books I must read", which keeps getting bigger rather than smaller.

Was it worth the wait? Yes. Bryson, having spent a number of years in the UK returns to the US, and starts a journey to find "Amalgam", the non-existant American "Dream Town". On his way to find his mythical Utopia Bryson comments in his wry manner on a number of things; the American plate, radio, motels, baseball etc etc. The short chapters and his wry style make it very readable for anyone with an interest of the US, or indeed travel in general. My favourite scene is his visit to the Grand Canyon engulfed in fog, and his meeting with a couple of honeymooners..... a laugh out loud moment - one of many littered throughout the book.

Why not 5 stars? I just felt at times, some of the comments were a little repetitive, but is that an indication of the state of that nation? Did he find Amalgam? Read it and find out? You will not be disappointed and will find the journey with Bill amusing and informative, a style which he really develops on in all his later travel books.
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on 22 June 2009
Bill Bryson's one of those writers you either get or you don't. He turns up somewhere, wanders around for a bit, doesn't do much, then moves on somewhere else. Eventually he writes a book about it which rarely strays from his own internal narrative and seldom brings shatteringly original insight.
The point is, though, that Bill's a terrific writer (takes after his father, I suppose) and an hour or so spent in his company just about anywhere is a delight. I can't think of anyone whose books relieve the tedium of a commute better than Bill, and this book is a typically modest pleasure.
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on 9 June 1999
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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on 24 September 2011
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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NOTE THIS IS A REVIEW FOR THE ABRIDGED AUDIO version of The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson read By Kerry Shale.

I love all of Bill Bryson's Books and bough this one on cassette back in the day.
So, when presented with a really cheap price for this two CD disc set of the book I decided to invest in another copy.

The first thing I noticed was that this edition is just 2 CDs long.
Would there be absolute drastic cuts from the novel?
I'd had thought 4 CDs would be just right for the abridged version.

I have enjoyed the narrator Kerry Shale's other narrations of numerous audio books- just type in Kerry Shale on Amazon and stand back as the list goes on and on.

Shale is excellent hence his popularity as a narrator so we have a win win situation.
A great book read by a great Narrator but the length?
I need not have worried for Shale reads this book at a heck of a pace.
I was reminded of a Gattling Gun by the sheer speed and number of words he gets out in a minute.
Don't get me wrong you hear and understand every word Kerry says and it makes sense but he does not waste a moment in the telling.

For a review about the books contents then other reviewers have written, at length about this.

All you need to know is that the book is entertaining, humorous and read so darn well by Kerry Shale- a really good buy for this cheap as chips price.
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VINE VOICEon 17 June 2009
I read this on holiday recently and couldn't put it down; ideal entertainment as it's easy to read, funny, but equally does make you think on a deeper level now and again. Bryson's comments and observations can be deceptively sharp at times. This book is around 20 years'old now, and yet back then he was talking about the US motor trade going under, and the incredible but true notion of the the Americans simply not knowing about their economy sliding into recession (the last big one.) It really does prove that what goes round, comes around.

Effortlessly readable, this is probably the best Bill Bryson I've read to date. Recommended.
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on 17 March 2004
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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on 10 September 2008
I think you either dig Bryson or you don't. This was the second book of his I read (first was Neither Here nor There). A year or so after I read the book I got this (on tape) to hear on holiday, and began listening in the departure lounge at LHR. Basically my wife had to virtually throw a fire-bucket over me since I was apparently making a spectacle of myself. Kerry Shale's rapid-fire delivery really makes this a great (if exhausting) listen. Even though I've heard it many times (and have attempted to mimic parts of it to friends a thousand times) I still don't get tired of hearing it. If the weather's crap and there's nothing on TV this is hard to beat for sheer pants-wettingly funny listening. The best bits are Kerry Shale's take on the Southern accent: "Can I HEP you?" "Ha doo lack Miss Hippy?" [you're going to need to buy it to figure this one out] and my special favourite "How about a piece o'Pah? We got blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry, huckleberry, whortleberry, cherry berry, hair berry, Chuck Berry and Beri Beri". Frankly, if you can listen to this stuff for longer than a minute or two without cracking up you've either got no sense of humour or you deserve an award.
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