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Good stuff, but Bryson is still The Boss
on 20 March 1999
Thought-provoking collection of 24 essays on the wackier side of American life, most of which are real eye-openers. Some are amusing ('California Dog Days'), some genuinely scary/sinister ('The Other Oklahoma', 'Calling Julia B'), some painful ('Not Meant for Walking' - ouch!) and some genuinely touching (how could anyone not be moved by the Angola Prison Rodeo?).
This'll probably be compared to Bill Bryson's 'The Lost Continent'. The main difference is that, as a reporter, Jeffreys actively seeks out the unusual (at some risk to himself, it seems), while Bryson responds to his native country through the eyes of an ex-pat. There is more warmth in Bryson, more detachment in Jeffreys, and if it's a laugh you're after, Bryson wins hands down. He manages to get more laffs in one page than Jeffreys does in his whole book. (On p.268 of ABP, Jeffreys even comes up with a typical Brysonism: "Actually I made that last one up." Nuff said.)