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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent education
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...
Published 10 months ago by Fabulous Book Fiend

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly stodgy
Everyone knows what an entertaining writer Bryson is, but if you read this expecting it to be side-splittingly funny I think you will be disappointed. While it is full of interesting nuggets it also sags badly at times. In particular, there is WAY too much about minor aviators who all start to sound the same. In fact, there is a bit too much of everything. Bryson clearly...
Published 9 months ago by Claretta


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent education, 19 Oct 2013
This review is from: One Summer: America 1927 (Kindle Edition)
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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36 of 39 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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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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly stodgy, 21 Nov 2013
By 
Claretta (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One Summer: America 1927 (Kindle Edition)
Everyone knows what an entertaining writer Bryson is, but if you read this expecting it to be side-splittingly funny I think you will be disappointed. While it is full of interesting nuggets it also sags badly at times. In particular, there is WAY too much about minor aviators who all start to sound the same. In fact, there is a bit too much of everything. Bryson clearly did a huge amount of research and you get the feeling he couldn't bear to leave anything out. So just as you are getting interested in Al Capone he veers off onto another tangent and you lose the thread. That's not to say there isn't some compelling stuff in the book, but overall I didn't think it lived up to his usual high standards of wit and entertainment.
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23 of 25 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 review is from: One Summer: America 1927 (Kindle Edition)
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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4 of 4 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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This review is from: One Summer: America 1927 (Kindle Edition)
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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84 of 95 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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting year-somewhat.., 18 July 2014
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Dublinia (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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Really had to plough through this one-the only Bryson book that I've found a bit tedious. Maybe just overkill on American Baseball (which eventually I just skipped over-as I've absolutely no interest in the subject--so probably an unfair comment). I suppose he would have a deep interest in baseball--his dad having been a sports writer on that very subject In fairness though, the Aviation history chapters were very good.
One would get the impression that this book (unlike his others) is mainly pitched (forgive the pun) to an American audience.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One summer, two Bill Brysons, 24 Aug 2014
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This review is from: One Summer: America 1927 (Kindle Edition)
There are two Bill Bryson's as an author. One is the hilarious travel writer with observations on his world travels highlighted in books such as The Lost Continent, a brilliant observation of small town America and Neither Here nor there, a recollection of his travels in Europe as a younger man. Then there is the other author who chronicles lots of details into books such as A brief history of everything. One summer America 1927 falls into the latter category with hints of the first. The level of detail around some events can appear to be somewhat overwhelming to the reader, however within the detail there are many amazing facts and observations to make this book a good read. I cannot criticise an author who has made me laugh out loud on many occasions and also made me cry with laughter with some inspired tales of everyday events. (His telling of buying a train ticket in Stockholm still makes me laugh years after reading it for the first time). This book brings together a number of historical events which culminate in the year of 1927. Worth a read if you like interesting facts
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4 of 5 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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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 Flight of fancy, 14 July 2014
By 
Crookedmouth ":-/" (As seen on iPlayer) - See all my reviews
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In 1927, Charles Augustus Lindbergh set out to cross the Atlantic in a small, converted mail plane, The Spirit of St Louis. This is the central theme of Bill Bryson's latest book, One Summer. In typical Brysonian style, however, the main thread is woven through a vastly more complex tapestry depicting, in this case, the world and the US in particular of the the age. So we are treated to discourses on the trial and conviction of renowned and murderous adulterers Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray, Prohibition and the downfall of the gangster chief Al Capone. Bryson ponders the catastrophic weather in the Midwest that year and the response of Herbert Hoover to the biblical floods that followed. And so on and so forth and in greater or lesser detail, according to the author's whim.

Indeed, this is a long and prodigiously meandering book and Bryson's ponderous sojourn into the rise, fall and rise again of Babe Ruth and the world of inter-war baseball does rather break the flow. The man is a self-confessed baseball fanatic and the chapter on the subject wavers between interesting and dull. Consequently, you may weary occasionally, as my wife did, and find yourself skipping the odd chapter (as I did). On balance though, One Summer is still an absorbing and informative read.

And also an entertaining one. He is a great humourist and raconteur and I wonder that a dinner or evening in the pub in his company must surely be a fascinating and enjoyable one. Bryson also has a wonderful turn of phrase.

"...he became engaged to a young New York socialite with the unimprovably glorious name of Cosuelo Hatmaker"

"Captain William Waters, an American of amiable anonymity..."

This trait is not given full rein, as it has been in his previous writings, which is a shame. Books like A Walk in the Woods, A Short History of Nearly Everything and Mother Tongue successfully blended humour with history, entertainment with education and, while one might occasionally have questioned Bryson's veracity, he could never be faulted for failing to engage /and/ inform his readers. One Summer doesn't fly quite so high in drawing laughs from the cheap seats.

Nevertheless, this remains an enjoyably immersive read, and a highly recommended one and, if it loses the occasional member of the audience every now and then, well, perhaps that is a small price to pay
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