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A monster of a book filled with the most bizarre, the most fascinating stuff combined in perfect Bryson style.
on 31 August 2014
How on earth one person can create a book, albeit a very long book, out of such an extreme diversity of events, developments, people and plain downright pecularity, that is quite simply riveting and entertaining and somehow holds itself together? That person can only be Bill Bryson. No idea how he does it, but this is a book that is great fun to read, will contribute at least one fact to quite possibly every subject you can think of, and by the end of it, make you feel as if you have been at the centre of a whirlwind. As America must have felt at the end of the four months of summer in 1927 - whew.
A lot happened or came to fruition over that four months. Bill Bryson would seem to touch on all of them in some way - amongst others the beginnings of television, talking films, manipulation of the US finanical system, Ponzi schemes, Al Capone, boxing, devastating floods in the Mississippi, Henry Ford's new Model T car. But of total dominance, overshadowing everything that occurred during that period are the trans Atlantic flight of Charles Lindbergh and the magnetic power of Babe Ruth - baseball and planes. You will learn a lot about both, much of which you never really needed or wanted to know, but because it is written about in such an engaging and conversational manner, somehow the facts, and there are many of them, do stay with you.
However this compendium of often quite bizarre, fancy that, overall useless but intensely fascinating informaton is not so much about April to September 1927, but about the years that lead up to the various events that reach their zenith over that particular year. The book more becomes a history, mostly social and economic of America during the 12-13 years since the end of WWI . So the list includes prohibtion, the prejudices and bigotry that evolved from the mass inflow of migrants from Europe, the seeds of eugenics and population control that reached its peak in Nazi Germany, the Ku Klux Klan, the pull of newspapers, America's love affair with skyscrapers, the weirdness of history makers like Henry Ford, Herbert Hoover, and so it goes on. An endless parade of events, people, and behaviours that quite frankly had me wondering how on earth America made it past 1927.
And it is riveting, endlessly fascinating reading written.