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The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid | [Bill Bryson]

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century, 1951, in the middle of the United States, Des Moines, Iowa, in the middle of the largest generation in American history, the baby boomers. As one of the best and funniest writers alive, his is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24-carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero.
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Publisher's Summary

Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century, 1951, in the middle of the United States, Des Moines, Iowa, in the middle of the largest generation in American history, the baby boomers. As one of the best and funniest writers alive, his is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24-carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. In his case, he ran around his house and neighborhood in an old football jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel about his neck that served as his cape, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and vanquishing awful evildoers (and morons) in his head as "The Thunderbolt Kid".

Using this persona as a springboard, Bryson recreates the life of his family and his native city in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality, at once completely familiar to us all and as far away and unreachable as another galaxy. Warm and laugh-out-loud funny, and full of his inimitable, pitch-perfect observations, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is as wondrous an audiobook as Bill Bryson has ever recorded. It will enchant anyone who has ever been young.

©2006 Bill Bryson; (P)2006 Random House, inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This affectionate portrait wistfully recalls the bygone days of Burns and Allen and downtown department stores, but with a good-natured elbow poke to the ribs." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    MusicMom13 Savannah GA 02-17-07
    MusicMom13 Savannah GA 02-17-07 Member Since 2004
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    "Andrea from PA"

    When where you were was special because it wasn't like anyplace else... Bill Bryson remembers a Des Moines in the 50s that had character and a unique set of businesses and places...before the days of chain stores, chain restaurants, indoor malls. The reference to politics is negligible -- it's a great listen. Bryson doesn't take it seriously and neither should the listener.If you are a boomer, laugh away and just ENJOY!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Bertram Philadelphia, PA, USA 02-15-07
    Bertram Philadelphia, PA, USA 02-15-07
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    "Laugh out Loud"

    Loved listening to this book - Bill Bryson is able to catch the essence of childhood. I laughed out loud. Everyone would love this book who can recall what it was like to be a kid growing up the 1950's.I could listen to it all over again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maria Crosman Langhorne, PA United States 01-18-07
    Maria Crosman Langhorne, PA United States 01-18-07 Member Since 2005
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    "the life and times of the thunderbolt kid"

    I enjjoyed every minute of tis book. I gave a copy to an aunt and I could have given this book to the high school nephews, too. Great read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. McCarley California 01-04-07
    C. McCarley California 01-04-07 Listener Since 2002

    Cammer

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    "Pretty good"

    Entertaining. Bill Bryson is one of my favorite authors, and I love books where the author is the narrator. Bill Bryson's enormous talent as a wordsmith is apparent here. However, this book is not as good as others he's written. It didn't have the level of childlike spirit I thought it would, and I thought the main character was a bit cynical for a kid.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cranberry 11-13-06
    Cranberry 11-13-06 Member Since 2004
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    "Funny!"

    So different from A Short History of Everything. This book was very funny! My stomach hurt from laughing at times. I loved the way he imitatates the adults. I have to go and listen to some of his other "memoir" type books.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Arlington, TX, USA 11-02-06
    Chris Arlington, TX, USA 11-02-06
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    "entertaining, but not Bryson's best"

    This memoir of Bryson's youth in the Midwest is interesting and entertaining. Occasionally Bryson destroys the mood by injecting political comentary that has nothing to do with the plot.
    I am still trying to figure out how a rant against political intrigue in Central America fits in this book. Equally hard to comprehend, is the fact Bryson seems unable to understand that nationalizing private businesses and distributing their assests to the masses, is in fact, communism. It doesn't matter whether one agrees or disagrees with this policy. It is what it is. Bryson seems to feel this is more democratic than communistic. Come on Bill, you are smarter than that!

    11 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carole toledo, OH, USA 06-23-08
    Carole toledo, OH, USA 06-23-08
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    "Laughed till I cried!"

    As another reviewer said, the hardest part of listening to this book is explaining to the drivers around you why you are laughing so hard! Special note: Hearing Bill Bryson read the book makes it so much better. I can't imagine that reading it could be as funny as hearing his voice with his dry sense of humor. It makes it so much better! I grew up in the 50's and experience much of what he talks about - downtown stores, the introduction of television in the home, chain restaurants and over-heated elem schools. But I literally laughed so hard, I had to pull off the road to get a grip. Great book!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Mary New Hope, PA, United States 12-04-06
    Mary New Hope, PA, United States 12-04-06 Member Since 2006
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    "More humor, less facts"

    What a disappointment....a true American story told by an author with a British accent. It is very distracting. So also is the litany of facts about life in 1950's America. More humorous stories, less facts, would be greatly appreciated.

    4 of 18 people found this review helpful
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    Carolyn Seattle, WA, USA 08-05-09
    Carolyn Seattle, WA, USA 08-05-09
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    "Like the book, but the narrator is awful"

    This book is delightful. I just wish I'd read it, rather than listened to it. Lots of reviewers seem to like hearing Bryson's voice. I have to disagree. He has a sinus infection/allergy/something going on that makes me want to say "Please, blow your nose!" Plus, he's lost his Iowa accent and now sounds like Madonna. Very, very distracting -- and not very believable as the Thunderbolt Kid.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Champaign, IL, United States 01-27-08
    Robert Champaign, IL, United States 01-27-08 Member Since 2001
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    "Listen to the author"

    When the author, who is also the narrator, told me at the begiining that his childhood was uneventful, translate boring, that should have been my clue. There are so many excellent books out there, I would recommend not wasting your time and money on this one.

    0 of 8 people found this review helpful
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