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The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid: Travels Through my Childhood Paperback – 4 Jun 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 204 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (4 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552772542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552772549
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 214,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A wittily incisive book about innocence, and its limits, but in no sense an innocent book... Like Alan Bennett, another ironist posing as a sentimentalist, Bryson can play the teddy-bear and then deliver a sudden, grizzly-style swipe... might tell us as much about the oddities of the American way as a dozen think-tanks" (Boyd Tonkin Independent)

"A funny, effortlessly readable, quietly enchanted memoir... Bryson also provides a quirky social history of America... he always manages to slam on the brakes with a good joke just when things might get sentimental" (Daily Mail)

"Characteristic mixture of bemused wit, acerbic astonishment and sweet benevolence... Evocation of an era is near perfect: tender, hilarious and true" (The Times)

"Outlandishly and improbably entertaining... inevitably [I] would be reduced to body-racking, tear-inducing, de-couching laughter" (The New York Times)

"Seriously funny" (The Sunday Times)

Book Description

Bill Bryson on his most personal journey yet: into his own childhood in America's Mid-West.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have read every Bill Bryson book ever penned. I have enjoyed every last one of them without exception, even the rubbish ones. I'm pleased to report however that his latest book is far from that. I enjoyed 'A Short History' but it was never anything I could quite read cover to cover continuously. Thunderbolt Kid is a return to the Bill we've come to know and love. Although I'm only eighteen and British myself and one would think that I would have no common frame of reference with which to appreciate an exploration of life in 1950s America, the fantastic thing about this book is that you don't need to have been born in the fifties or even in the states to enjoy it. I think the blurb puts it very eloquently when it says that all you need to have been is young once. That said, where it does get technical, Bill goes to some lengths to explain it in a way that allows those of us not of colonial extraction to continue to snort with laughter. Be warned, this is not a book to be read in public or while eating or drinking. As with each of Bill's books, it really is laugh-out-loud funny. Well done Bill, you've not lost it and you remain one of my favourite authors, even if you do insist on insulting my home town.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a superb book, full of warmth, wit and wonderful anecdotes from the author's life. As well as being excellent social commentary on middle class America Bill Bryson also includes a plethora of insights and statistics about his home country that are eye popping and give you pause. I could not commend this book to you highly enough - a brilliant amusing and thoroughly engaging read.
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Format: Hardcover
There is an inexplicable `something' about Bill Bryson books that make them feel like familiar old friends as soon as you start reading them, and `The Life & Times Thunderbolt Kid' continues this. In essence, the book chronicles Bryson's early years and the changing face of America during the 1950's. I was aware that a `memoir' style effort from Bryson could be a victim of simply retracing old ground, since his earlier travel books packed in so much of his life story, but it feels as fresh and new as ever.

Although the stories contained in the book are interesting in their own right, it seems that a certain emphasis has been placed on the comedy aspects, although this never feels like it is forced. Tales of the `toity jar', a Grandmother's public confusion over liquorice baby sweets and Bryson's one-of-a-kind father had me absolutely howling with laughter.

`The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid' is an appealing slice of Americana, and a timely reminder that the USA was once a pretty fascinating and charming place. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Bryson's books and found this one as funny and interesting as all those that came before. In this book he has managed to capture in words those things that all of us felt at sometime during our childhood. Add into the mix a small dose of American history and you have a book that is both funny, insightful, and somewhat educational. I recommed this to all--it is vintage Bryson. Also, his old friend Katz makes an appearance. What can be better than that?!
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Format: Paperback
Bill Bryson is without question the funniest travel writer on this planet. His books about criss crossing the world and experiencing different cultures are hilarious, inspiring and even occasionally, touching. And droll. Very droll. Bryson is also perhaps our drollest author.

In this new book, however, he deals with his upbringing in the Central U.S. in Iowa. Bryson proves himself to be a renaissance man, writing about growing up and his strained relationship with his father. Everybody who's experienced this, which is many, can relate.

Bryson is at his FUNNIEST, WRYEST, and MOST TOUCHING in this book. It'll make you laugh and maybe even cry. If you're the sensitive sort.

This is one of three books in the past few months that made me laugh out loud. Repeatedly. The others are "Dave Barry's Money Secrets" a send up of investment books and Martha Bolton's "Maybe Life's Just Not That Into You" an EXTRAORDINARILY FUNNY spoof of self help books.

I hope Bryson writes more books centering on his youth. Although I cannot relate in the least to growing up in this place called Iowa (I always thought it was "Ioway") he's a marvelous writer and made me feel like I was born in Ioway. Er, Iowa.
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Format: Hardcover
Reading other customer reviews I think its possible that Bill Bryson is misinterpreted by some of our reviewers. Yes, some of his book is written by his research, yes some of his stories are exaggerated and some is fantasy. But tell me, which books of his aren't?

Bill Bryson is the master of the jovial, chuckling and mischeiveous sideways glance.

For me this was a great book on a couple of levels.

First, the warmth. America in the 50's is a really god backdrop. The theatres, the baseball, the apple pie, the early days of television and hilarious stories of missed female flesh in the treehouse.

Secondly though, its the really powerful and delicately done stories of America's dark side; the Anti-Communist obsession, racism, failings on the space race, nuclear testing, the exploitation of countries by Corporate America. He never laboured the points or tackled them in an obvious way.

This book could easily be bedtime reading for the Anti-American, Anti-Globalisation and Anti-Everything briggade.

Overall its a sad book. Fond recollections of an era gone by.

I feel the same myself.

Until he writes another book.
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