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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Perfect - Bryson at his most infectious and mischievous
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...
Published 5 months ago by John Ironmonger

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another badly researched book from Bryson
After the critical drubbing that Bryson got for "Home" you would think that he would perhaps spend a bit more time checking his facts for the next one. Unfortunately, this appears not to be the case. On pg 116, Bryson asserts that Mickey Mouse was originally called Oswald, whereas it was actually Mortimer. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was a completely different...
Published 2 months ago by Mr. R. T. Bowes


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Perfect - Bryson at his most infectious and mischievous, 8 Nov 2013
By 
John Ironmonger "J.W.Ironmonger" (Market Drayton, Shropshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One Summer: America 1927 (Hardcover)
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. I started the book with a level of interest very close to zero in either event, but finished up almost as delirious with excitement as the crowds who swarmed to see both heroes in action. It is a heavy book, and my arms were aching as I finished it. But it is an amazing and wonderful read. I thoroughly recommend it.
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79 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Bryson does it again....., 27 Sep 2013
By 
IOWBOY - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One Summer: America 1927 (Hardcover)
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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One (weird) Summer, America 1927, 15 Oct 2013
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Return to form for Mr Bryson, 5 Nov 2013
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent education, 19 Oct 2013
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! Bill Bryson's tone is its usual chatty self meaning that, as a reader, you feel at ease with the narrative, you feel as if Bryson is talking to you and only you. His writing never makes you feel stupid and yet he doesn't really assume any prior knowledge, great when you are a Brit learning about American history and culture!

The best part of this book for me in the end was the epilogue. Now I love an epilogue in any kind of writing and love it in a fiction book when I get to find out what happened to all the characters, how they ended up and what the consequences of their actions were. This book did exactly that. Bryson wrapped up his book by revisiting all of the names mentioned in previous chapters and told us what had become of them all. I won't spoil any of it for you, but there were some real shockers there! I really enjoyed this book and if you have the time to read this, it is well worth it, I can recommend it in either format, or do as I did and read both!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another badly researched book from Bryson, 21 Feb 2014
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This review is from: One Summer: America 1927 (Hardcover)
After the critical drubbing that Bryson got for "Home" you would think that he would perhaps spend a bit more time checking his facts for the next one. Unfortunately, this appears not to be the case. On pg 116, Bryson asserts that Mickey Mouse was originally called Oswald, whereas it was actually Mortimer. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was a completely different character. On Pg 117, we get the "Lindbergh Hop" which was actually the "Lindy Hop". Lindbergh's autobiography is variously called "We" or "The Spirit of St. Louis", and so on. The US flag did not acquire the nickname "Old Glory" until at least 1831. No doubt there are many more mistakes that I didn't pick up on, not being totally obsessed with American culture.

Honestly, Bryson's continued determination to laud the USA starts to become embarrassing. Is he trying to prove some kind of point? It becomes clear throughout the book that in 1927, the USA was a dangerous place to be, over-run with mobsters, corrupt government officials, rife with racism, anti-semitism, white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and led by Presidents Coolidge and Hoover, both of whom come across as despicable, weak willed idiots. But to read Bryson, you would be forgiven for thinking that he was in charge of PR for the entire continent. I am sure that there were interesting and important things going on in other countries as well - but of these there is no mention. In fact, there is no mention of any other continent than the US.

Bryson is at his most tiresome when wittering on endlessly about baseball. Most of his UK readership will be completely at sea when plodding through acres of text about batting averages, pinch hitters and bunts. And there is a major lack of focus to the book, which weaves in multitudes of characters and expects you to remember all of them. Some of their alleged "connections" are tangential, to say the very least.

Having said that, this was a good read, if you can keep up with all the jumping backwards and forwards and the constant slobbering over Lindberg and Babe Ruth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More of the same, 10 Jan 2014
I have occasionally struggled to finish some of Bill Bryson's previous books. They are always very informative and well-written, clearly thoroughly researched, and often quite amusing. I have, however, generally encountered some indefinable difficulty with them, and found my enthusiasm tapering as I draw towards the close: the nearer I come to the finish, the more of a burden they become. It sometimes seems as though I am caught in a Zeno's arrow scenario in which before I can finish the book I will have to read half of what remains, and then half of what will b left after that, and then and then a further half of that reducing balance ...

What is oddest of all about this is that I don't know why

It was the same, though admittedly to a lesser degree, with this book, though I did enjoy the first half. I raced through the early sections, lapping up the customary melange of obscure facts that Bryson offers up in great abundance. I did, however, reach a tipping point about three quarters of the way through, and from then on it became a struggle to plod on through to the end. I often feel find myself disappointed when thinking that I still have quite a lot of a book left to find that the publisher has included a few chapters of the next book by way of an appetiser. On this occasion the fact that there was a comprehensive bibliography that took up about forty pages came as a great relief - it felt like being let off school on a half holiday.

The central idea of the book is very well thought out. Rather than just setting out a straightforward account of Lindbergh's epochal flight from New York to Paris (which would have been gripping enough, after all), Bryson sets it within the context of what was happening in New York in 1927. He also throws in potted biographies of Lindbergh, Babe Ruth and Presidents Hoover and Coolidge along with histories of Prohibition, the Federal Reserve and American aviation (the latter being conspicuous by its paucity compared to flying achievements in Europe prior to Lindbergh's triumph).

This probably makes it all sound very interesting, which it certainly was, but somehow it still jarred slightly. Still, I now know a lot more than I did before.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A quite interesting year, 3 Jan 2014
By 
B. M. Clegg "Brian Clegg" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One Summer: America 1927 (Hardcover)
The 'quite interesting' year I refer to is not a look back at 2013, but a glimpse of the summer of 1927 given to us by Bill Bryson in his latest book. In fact a glimpse is a bit of an understatement as a description of this doorstep of a tome.

As the cover suggest, one of the major themes of the book is the rise to outstanding fame of Charles Lindbergh as a result of his aerial Atlantic crossing. As Bryson surprisingly informs us, this was not actually the first crossing by air but around the 120th. It had certainly been done by plane earlier by Alcock and Brown. But somehow Lindy's flight caught the imagination of the world and he became a superstar.

The rise and fall of Lindbergh occupy a fair amount of the book, but we also meet his competitors and other notables of the period in America from politics to sport (notably baseball and boxing) and bringing in everything from famous murders of the period (through to the details of their electrocution) to the sad disaster that was prohibition and the gangsters who profited from it.

Overall, Bryson's skill is in weaving all this together into an enjoyable tapestry. If I'm honest I much prefer his travel books, where the personal story and humour makes the writing a lot more fun, and I had to skip over the sports sections which I found deadly dull, but despite being about an obscure year in a foreign country it still made for a very readable book that kept the pages turning.

For me, one of the greatest delights of the read was finding out more about Texas Guinan, who features in one of my favourite numbers from the Yale Song Book, 'George Jones'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and humorous, 11 Dec 2013
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This review is from: One Summer: America 1927 (Hardcover)
If you like a very thorougly researched book with amusing anecdotes and some shocks, historical facts and a plethora of wacky personalities - this book is for you!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent slice of recent history, 25 Oct 2013
By 
M. S. George "Mike" (North Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This is an excellent chronicle of just one year of American history, full of little-known but fascinating facts. The only slight down side is the content concerning baseball, which I found just about as interesting as watching paint dry! However, it has to be acknowledged that if the book was about one year in British history, American readers would have the same reaction to any content about cricket.
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One Summer: America 1927
One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson (Hardcover - 26 Sep 2013)
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