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The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid Audiobook

The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

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Publisher's Summary

Bill Bryson's hilarious memoir of growing up in middle America in the Fifties, complete, unabridged, and read by the author.

Born in 1951 in the middle of the United States, Des Moines, Iowa, Bill Bryson is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24 carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generation, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. In his case, he ran around the house wearing a jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel round his neck that served as his cape, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and vanquishing evildoers (in his head) as The Thunderbolt Kid.

Using his old fantasy life as a springboard, Bill Bryson recreates the life of his family in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality. In a period that saw the inexorable rise of television, the opening of Disneyland, the testing of the atomic bomb, and the explosion of choice in everything from food to cars, Bill Bryson's days followed in reassuringly cosy succession, enlivened by modest triumphs and disasters.

Warm and laugh-out-loud funny, The Thunderbolt Kid is full of Bill Bryson's inimitable, pitch-perfect observations and this unabridged recording contains every single amusing anecdote and amazing fact. Nothing is left out, so you can enjoy the whole book in its entirety, read by Bill Bryson himself.

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (224 )
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4.3 (120 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Robin Donnybrook, Western Australia, Australia 08-22-11
    Robin Donnybrook, Western Australia, Australia 08-22-11
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    "I just loved it!"

    This is such a funny autobiography and brings to life the minds of small and not so small boys! Having Bill Bryson read his own biography is an added bonus as he brings it to life. I laughed out loud so often. A wonderful listen.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel Buda, TX, USA 11-06-06
    Joel Buda, TX, USA 11-06-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another Bryson Hit"

    This is a great book. It contains more profanity than his past works, but usually in a context where some explicatives are required. There are also some political jabs that I think will spoil this work a generation or two down the road. I love Bill Bryson and all his other works... and as usual, it's a real treat to have the author reading their own book!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sumit G. 01-14-12
    Sumit G. 01-14-12 Listener Since 2006
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    "A superhero's life in the superhero's words"
    Would you listen to The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid again? Why?

    I am listening to it again and again already!!! It is the funniest memoir I've read, period.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid?

    There were quite a few, my favourite was when Bill Bryson was caught reading comics on his desk when the rest of his class was sitting under their desks for a mock air raid preparation.

    The funniest was the todie jar incident, which involved peeing, jars, food and an absent minded mother. But the best bits were the turn of phrase that Bill employed and his own voice which add a texture and nuance which the other reader of this book can never match.

    Other memorable moments were when Bill talked about the reality of life in the 50s, such as racism, sex and America's obession with communism. Bill only mentioned these issues in short but extremely well researched


    What does Bill Bryson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Bill's voice and nuance. It really does add stars to the book. If I could, I would give the book 6 stars, instead of 5, as Bill's own narration really takes the book up another level.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Funny, real, scary, great, and unmissable - The Wonder Years of Bill Bryson in the 50s.


    Any additional comments?

    For those people craving a longer book, this book despite its 7-8 hour length feels longer. Also, the rehearings will really add up as you are gaurenteed to listen to it again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-06-09 Member Since 2007
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    "a must for bryson fans"

    another great storytelling by bill bryson. well worth a credit for any fan. if youve not listened to bryson before, maybe start with a walk in the wood, one of my favourites

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neale Blackwood PERTH, WA Australia 10-24-15
    Neale Blackwood PERTH, WA Australia 10-24-15 Listener Since 2006

    Neale

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    "The 50's were dangerous"
    Any additional comments?

    Obviously this type of book benefits greatly by having the author read it and this was very enjoyable. Wow the 50's were dangerous, its a wonder anyone survived. A great romp through Bill Bryson's early life, growing up in the 50's. If you like his other books you will like this one. It has some wonderful over and understatements throughout. He captures a kid's perspective with great skill.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Philip Upper Hutt, New Zealand 05-07-12
    Philip Upper Hutt, New Zealand 05-07-12 Member Since 2011
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    "A fun read."
    What made the experience of listening to The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid the most enjoyable?

    The irony of Bryson's memory as always. Despite a US upbringing it found resonances in my own UK boyhood.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I had no complaints. Some actors might have made it even funnier.


    What three words best describe Bill Bryson’s voice?

    Funny, observant, ironic.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No but nothing to do with the book only my time.


    Any additional comments?

    Classic Bryson. Adults probably like this more than kids. Mine thought it was 'rude' which makes them seem a lot more naive than I was at their age (14/15).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony Melbourne, Australia 04-23-12
    Tony Melbourne, Australia 04-23-12
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    "Loved it!"
    Any additional comments?

    A great insight into America's heydays in the 1950s and 60s - laced with great humour, historical events and social insights. There was something very special about post second world war America - an unmatched optimism sometimes founded on blissful ignorance but always supported by a burning ambition - and Bill Bryson unfolds these contradictions with affection and humour. Having the author read the book only added to the authenticity of the story and helped me feel closer to one of my favourite authors.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Trevor Collins 03-06-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Boyhood dreams"

    A whimsical look at childhood memories in the US. Sometimes interesting, sometimes sentimental with enough humour to carry the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pedro Las Pajanosas, Spain 02-20-12
    Pedro Las Pajanosas, Spain 02-20-12
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    "Funny, entertaining and well written"

    I found this audiobook a very entertaining and amusing listen. Bill Bryson has a way of telling the story that makes it very enjoyable. It also had the effect of reminding me of my own childhood that, although had little to do with his (different ages and places) I could still relate to many of the stories.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Klaudia Warsaw, Poland 12-19-11
    Klaudia Warsaw, Poland 12-19-11
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    "No disappointment from Billy Bryson's novel!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Learning about America's unofficial history, enriched with some private stories from Bill's family gave the book really authentic feeling. All this with really great narration make the book great fun.


    Have you listened to any of Bill Bryson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    American taboos revealed: when American men could be found naked


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • chris
    London, United Kingdom
    10/26/06
    Overall
    "Stupid grin on my face"

    I've just spent several happy hours with a stupid grin on my face, not to mention laughing out loud (and I'm not the sort of person to laugh out loud), listening to this genuinely funny narration. Bill Bryson has a wonderful way with words - both the way he's written this and the way he's narrated it - and you don't have to be a child of the fifties to enjoy this story about childhood and 'why grown-ups are not to be trusted'. This is quite the best thing I've listened to so far in my 16 months of membership and I just didn't want it to end, so now I'm off to download some more Bryson titles...

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Lee
    7/17/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A nostalgic view of childhood"

    Bryson narrates his own novel like a much loved uncle retelling stories of his youth. The book covers his childhood during the 50's and 60's in rural America. It gives an insight into the hope that filled a nation and how this changed as pivotal moments in American history unravel. These are captured from a child's eye with great wonder. Part of the beauty of the book is it captures the human condition at childhood. There's also some great moments of humour that made me chuckle. I wouldn't normally read a biography, but found this an entertaining read.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Daniel
    7/13/15
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    "Brilliant"

    An incredible, engrossing portrait of different time. Bryson succeeds as ever in holding your attention throughout.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Elizabeth
    Maisons-Laffitte, France
    9/1/07
    Overall
    "I used to be a Bill Bryson fan!"

    Yes, even us Senior Citizens join fan clubs, or the modern equivalent thereof, which is now registering on an author's website in order to receive newsletters, etc. Bill Bryson's website is the only one I have joined as to date I have enjoyed his books so much, but now I shall be cancelling my enrolment.
    I hope, however, to enjoy reading and maybe even listening to, future books by this author but not those which he chooses to read himself. Before purchasing this particular title, I had listened to many Bill Bryson audio books, all read by William Roberts. I just wish this one had been read by him as well.
    In choosing to read his own work (or being encouraged to do so by his publishers) Bill Bryson has, I believe, made a cardinal error. His intonation and delivery rushes along in a manner which I think is difficult for those with an 'English' ear, i.e. one used to more word stress, to listen to comfortably. Some may describe Bryson's reading style as 'racy'. I wouldn't: it's poor. His reading left me wondering why this title is invariably in Audible's best seller list. I'll just have to buy a hard copy of the book and read it for myself as I'm sure it's cleverly and expertly written as Bill Bryson's books usually are. But I can't judge it on the basis of this disappointing presentation.

    18 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • Letty
    3/28/15
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    "Bill Brysons best book"

    A wonderful, funny and in parts moving book. I loved Bill Bryson narration....just perfect.
    I have listened to it twice now which I haven't ever done with an audible book before but this is well worth it.....loved every minute.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • martin
    MACCLESFIELD, United Kingdom
    11/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "HOME RUN!"
    Where does The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 10 as I,m a bit of a Bryson fan!


    What other book might you compare The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid to, and why?

    non in my collection


    Which character – as performed by Bill Bryson – was your favourite?

    His father...especially when he caught his parents having sex...very funny!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Its doable...just


    Any additional comments?

    Ive yet to find an Author with a more engaging style Than Bryson. Just love his style of narration!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    9/3/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "My heart broke a little when it ended"

    A wonderful book made all the more special for the author reading it. I laughed often and very nearly cried. Bravo

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    7/4/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic"

    Extremely funny and well read. Hard to find another book quite like it. The right sort of length.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • joan wright
    Glasgow
    4/16/08
    Overall
    "Wrong Choice"

    I agree with Elizabeth. I was surprised that such an unassuming man like Bill Bryson should have chosen to narrate this audio book. If he was persuaded by others then they were wrong. A narrator can make or break an audio book and bryson's nervous manner didn't add anything. I remember Stephen King saying it is unwise for authors to narrate their own books when trained actors can do a far better job. This was the case here. Having said all that I still liked it and look forward to more of Bryson's work. PS Note to the publishers. If you decide to ask William Roberts to narrate this book I will buy it despite already owning this one.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Danielle
    Broendby StrandDenmark
    11/14/06
    Overall
    "Not as funny as his other books"

    I have every book published by Bill Bryston, and was eagerly waiting for his latest masterpiece. While it is interesting to learn about my favourite author's boyhood pranks, it's not nearly as witty and funny as his previous books. Put it this way, I didn't get the usual funny looks or people swapping places away from me on the train due to uncontrollable snorts of laughter.

    6 of 11 people found this review helpful

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