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One Summer: America 1927 | [Bill Bryson]

One Summer: America 1927

One Summer: America, 1927, is the new book by Britain’s favourite writer of narrative nonfiction, Bill Bryson. Narrated by the man himself, One Summer takes you to the summer when America came of age, took centre stage, and changed the world forever. In the summer of 1927, America had a booming stock market, a president who worked just four hours a day, a semi-crazed sculptor with a plan to carve four giant heads into a mountain called Rushmore, a devastating flood of the Mississippi, a sensational murder trial, and a youthful aviator named Charles Lindbergh who started the summer wholly unknown, and finished it as the most famous man on Earth.
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Publisher's Summary

Audible is proud to present One Summer: America, 1927, the new book by Britain’s favourite writer of narrative nonfiction, Bill Bryson.

Narrated by the man himself, One Summer takes you to the summer when America came of age, took centre stage, and changed the world forever. In the summer of 1927, America had a booming stock market, a president who worked just four hours a day, a semi-crazed sculptor with a plan to carve four giant heads into a mountain called Rushmore, a devastating flood of the Mississippi, a sensational murder trial, and a youthful aviator named Charles Lindbergh who started the summer wholly unknown, and finished it as the most famous man on Earth.

It was the summer of the first talking pictures, the invention of television, the peak of Al Capone's reign of terror, the ill-conceived decision that led to the Great Depression, and the thrillingly improbable return to greatness of a wheezing, over-the-hill baseball player named Babe Ruth.

With an unforgettable cast of personalities, Bill Bryson spins a story of brawling adventure, reckless optimism, and delirious energy. What a country; what a summer; and what a writer to bring it all so vividly to life.

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951; he moved to and settled in England in 1977, working in journalism until becoming a full-time author. Bryson is much-loved for his best-selling travel books, from The Lost Continent to Down Under, and Notes from a Small Island earned a particularly special place in the nation's heart - a national poll for World Book Day voted it the book that best represents Britain. A Short History of Nearly Everything won the Aventis Prize for Science Books and the Descartes Science Communication Prize. Bryson has also written a memoir, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, and acclaimed books on language and social history (Mother Tongue, Made in America, At Home).

He lives in the UK with his wife and family, and was awarded an honorary OBE for services to literature.

©2013 Bill Bryson (P)2013 Audible Ltd

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  •  
    Ian Frankston South, Australia 12-01-13
    Ian Frankston South, Australia 12-01-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Classic Bryson"
    Would you consider the audio edition of One Summer to be better than the print version?

    I've read a lot of Bryson books and the ones he narrates are always a cut above their print versions. His voice is (unsurprisingly) perfect for his books. The audio-books of his work that are NOT read by the man himself, however, are to be avoided at all costs. I'd rather listen to abridged Bryson read by him than unabridged read by someone else.


    What other book might you compare One Summer to and why?

    Really only other books by Bryson. Pick one. Down Under, A Walk In The Woods, Life & Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid (probably closest in terms of painting a portrait of a time gone by), At Home... the list goes on. There's no other author quite like him.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The unfolding story of Charles Lindbergh, how this wholly uncharismatic man and genius pilot was made into an unwilling and often bewildered American legend.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No (it's not that kind of book really) but all of it entertained me.


    Any additional comments?

    If you like Bryson, you will love this. If you don't like Bryson, there's no reason to think this one will change your oddly tasteless mind.
    But if you've never given Bryson a try, I genuinely envy you. Start immediately. Buy half a dozen of his non-language books (not my cup of tea) that are read by him (no other narrator is capable of voicing his voice, so to speak), take a long weekend away from distraction, and relax. I very much doubt you'll regret it.
    You see, it doesn't matter what or who or when Bill Bryson turns his gaze onto, what matters is that it's his gaze. He is sublimely gifted at looking at the most mundane or well known of events and showing you that, truth be told, you were almost completely misinformed about it, assuming you were informed at all.
    I'm not American. I have little interest in American history or the 20s in general. I have no fascination for Lindbergh or Babe Ruth or Al Capone or any one of the other characters, big or small, that fill this book. The folly of Fordlandia doesn't matter to me. Baseball and boxing from the 20s is a subject I've never pondered on. The race to be first to cross the Atlantic by plane is a subject I know nothing about other than Lindbergh was first and he was loved for it.
    But all of that changes when it's Bryson telling me about these things. He picks out the most wonderful details and anecdotes, gives them a life of their own and makes you fascinated by the same things you didn't give a hoot about before you started listening.
    He's just a wonderful author.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Australia 10-17-13
    Joseph Australia 10-17-13 Member Since 2002
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    "A remarkable year. Or was it?"

    The Summer of 1927 in America was a remarkable time. Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic alone in a tiny plane and set off a hero-worship frenzy. Not just in the USA but across the globe. Television was born and Radio exploded. As did bombs set off by anarchists across the country. Criminals were electrocuted and Prohibition made other criminals rich. Bill Bryson tells this story in his unique style; finding the coincidences the curiosities and the connections that bring it all together in a way that is fascinating and at times, laugh-out-loud funny.

    It was a remarkable year. But then I think Bill Bryson could throw a dart at a calendar, hitting any season in any year in any country, and turn it into a compelling story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Woonona, Australia 09-29-13
    David Woonona, Australia 09-29-13 Member Since 2012

    A lover of Classics, humorous literature, bizarre fantasy and crazed crime and Sci-fi.

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    "Bill Bryson and his stunning works"

    Bill Bryson has yet again shown his exceptional talent for the creation of entertaining and instructive non-fiction texts. To those who have already listened or read a Bill Bryson title, you know that his work is unparalleled in its' ability to instruct and entertain using true stories and Bill Bryson's excellent research.

    One Summer America 1927, basically tells you what the book is focussed on. This brief period of time in the first half of the 20th century laid the ground work for many and varied events on the world stage. This was the time of the "roaring twenties", the pre-depression period, the creation of many ideas, inventions and dreams. America was reaching a turning point that would help to change the world forever.

    This book tells the tales of audacious aircraft pilots, pioneering inventors, sports stars, bucking politicians, dastardly murderers and ploting mobsters. Bill Bryson delves into the depths of matters of this period and analyses the effects of the happenings on the future and how they were effected by the past.

    One Summer America 1927 is a stunning example of Bill Bryson's best work and is delightfully humorous and clever whilst being able to instruct and inform.

    So listen on, for there is One Summer in America during 1927 that is amazing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Papakura, New Zealand 09-28-13
    Peter Papakura, New Zealand 09-28-13
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    "Bryson , Great as Usual..."

    Bryson researches his books so well and puts them together in a way that make them fascinating to read or listen to. I like listening to Bill Bryson narrate as well. I suspect he could make almost anything interesting. If you've liked any of his previous books you will no doubt enjoy this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simon Windsor, United Kingdom 05-10-14
    Simon Windsor, United Kingdom 05-10-14 Member Since 2002
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    "Bill in usual greatness... but too much baseball!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of One Summer to be better than the print version?

    Yes, Brysons dry narration is always a joy


    Would you be willing to try another book from Bill Bryson? Why or why not?

    I already own all of them


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

    Exactly the same as usual - if you like Bryson this is a definite buy.. but if you dont then avoid it!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    There are moments of history that are extremely saddening, and Bryson gives his perspective. However most of the book is humorous to laugh out loud.

    It's collection of happenings and events that are loosely tied around one theme - the summer of 1927. It's like having him round for dinner and saying.. tell us a story or two Bill.


    Any additional comments?

    TOO MUCH BASEBALL! I know his Dad was a baseball reporter and Im sure its a fab sport but wayyy too much coverage in this book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alessandro Blacktown, Australia 03-22-14
    Alessandro Blacktown, Australia 03-22-14 Listener Since 2006
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    "Another great book from Mr. Bryson"
    Would you consider the audio edition of One Summer to be better than the print version?

    I have not read the printed version, but I always prefer the audio version of any book..as long as the narrator is a good one and Mr. Bryson is an excellent reader.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of One Summer?

    Too many to mention...but I guess that the one that really sticks in my mind is the lengths the US Government went to stop people from drinking...adding strychnine??


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

    Yes and they are all very well written and read, I cannot remember a single one I did not enjoy. He always provides more that you expect.


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

    Yes as much as was possible.


    Any additional comments?

    I definitely recommend it as a great and informative listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill Manly, Australia 02-28-14
    Bill Manly, Australia 02-28-14 Member Since 2006
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    "another great read from Mr Bryson"
    What did you love best about One Summer?

    with this and 'At Home', the reader goes on a very interesting journey through the past brought to life not by dates and events, but by real life stories told well and very well researched, at least as far as I can tell.
    once again thank you Mr Bryson, also for narrating it personally.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-7 of 7 results
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  • Colin
    WATFORD, United Kingdom
    10/21/13
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    "Bryson hits another Home Run"

    I've long been a fan of Bill Bryson's books and this latest release continues to raise the bar on his fellow writers. At once engaging and informative Bryson connects with the listener from the outset and the pace never flags. With characters such as Babe Ruth, Al Capone, Woodrow Wilson, Jack Dempsey and, of course, Charles Lindburgh the narrative guides the listener through what was a golden time in America's history.

    The book looks at a wealth of topics from aviation, sport, politics, prohibition and the rise of the movies. I was particularly interested in the sections about the Anarchists who sent parcel bombs to leading political and authority figures. One failed to go off so the police thought it would be a good idea to take it back to the station for further investigation, where it promptly exploded, killing ten officers and some members of the public.

    An excellent,informative book and like all of Bryson's work, worthy of repeated listenings. I almost wish I had a road trip coming up as this would be the perfect accompaniment

    Highly recommended

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • S.E.
    Spain
    10/23/13
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    "Professionals please!"
    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Bill Bryson is a very fine author......he is not a professional narrator. I found his voice to be thin and without the required authority and expression of a trained actor or experienced reader. A very good book lacking a very good narrator!


    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Peter
    United Kingdom
    9/30/13
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    "Bill Bryson Does It Again"

    Bill Bryson has a clever way of making everything interesting. Even subjects I'm not normally bothered about. He has a fantastic dry wit and an entertaining way of putting things across. He's one of those rare authors I'd actually like to meet and have a cuppa with. Also, I normally hate it when the author reads their own work, but I must say I enjoy his laid-back tone and his unique accent - USA/UK. Well done, Bill. Great work. Can't wait to see what you've got to show us next.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Downey
    Harrogate, North Yorkshire United Kingdom
    10/20/13
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    "Bill Bryson a joy as always!"

    Great to hear Bill Bryson read his own work, the content as always with him teaches you things you didn't know about events or places you thought you knew. Has made a drive to Nuremberg from the UK a pleasure, looking forward to the second half on the return leg!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    UK
    7/7/14
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    Story
    "A fancinating examination of one summer in America"
    What did you like most about One Summer?

    Bryson's ability to turn up the most unusual facts and stories and combine them into a portrait of a nation. It gives a detailed snapshot of the landscape, the people their lives and the changes their society was undergoing. Bryso's research has allowed him to deflty draws them into a collection of threads that come together into a vivid sense of what America was in 1927.


    What other book might you compare One Summer to, and why?

    This is similar to Bryson's other non-fiction books - A Walk in the Woods and a Short History of Nearly Everything in that we are presented with Bryson's amiable wandering through a subject. However this isn't about him as such, it's a reflection of what he was interested in his subject.


    What about Bill Bryson’s performance did you like?

    The clear animation in his voice - at times you could hear him smiling as he read or shaking his head in disbelief with you. Bryson enjoys a relaxed easy style that eats up the hours and is the perfect accompaniment to a long drive, cooking a meal or doing the washing up.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Could you film this? Better to imagine it I think - let it live in your mind's eye.


    Any additional comments?

    The only reason I deducted 1 star from the overall score was that in a very few places it probably paid to actually be an American (understanding baseball in detail and the odd reference). However do not let this put you off the wonderfully animated journey the book takes you on. I laughed out loud several times while listening - even when commuting on the train.

    I recommend it wholeheartedly.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Steven
    Auckland, New Zealand
    3/2/14
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    "Hold on to your seats for one heck of a ride..."

    Bryson has selected a period of about six months (April to September) in one year (1927) when the most remarkable events and people in the USA intersected. He is a master story teller and traces the history and personalities of his “actors” without ever reverting to a catalogue of dates or achievements.

    It was one heck of a year: Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, Herbert Hoover, Al Capone, Talking pictures, prohibition, Saco and Vanzetti, Mount Rushmore and a handful or murderers all had their moment in the sun – and this is not a complete list.
    It was a perfect moment in time - after the war and before the depression. It was an instant when the height of 1920s excess clashed with the depths of conservative USA reaction. All in all, a remarkable year.

    Bryson revels in this type of book – he dredges up little-known facts and sketches his characters as larger-than-life figures (or not). The “story” never lags and his sense of hyperbole keeps the reader riveted. How about this as a sample of the irrelevant but interesting snippets which litter to book: The morning after Lindbergh’s triumphant landing in Paris the authorities collected over a ton of lost property at the airfield (following the frenzied reception by the French). There are many more. Some of the actions, decisions and statements are almost inconceivable. The fact, for example, that Al Capone paid wages of almost $700,000 every week – to crooked cops in Chicago.

    I guess there were other summers which held as many significant occurrences (probably very few) but I wonder if it is an accident that exactly 40 years later the summer of love would again yield a treasure trove of events and personalities. I’m hoping Bryson is busy on this book already: 1967 Another Summer.

    I really wish publishers would stop using authors to read books. I have said this so often. Bill is a great writer and he is one of my favourites. His diction is poor and his reading style is rushed and unprofessional. PLEASE USE ACTORS to read and writers to write.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Stewart Webb
    Reading, Berks UK
    2/23/14
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    "Should be Titled 1927ish....."

    This book should really be called Charles Lindberg and 1927(ish.). Because yes Lindbergh did fly from New York To Paris in the summer of 1927, but Bryson hangs to much on to this fact, he is like a dog with a bone, it is looked at from every respective and returns to him again and again in different chapters.

    1927(ish) because he swings back and forth with some (and there are only few ) very interesting historical stories from the very early 1920’s to the 1930’ Great Depression.

    Also, be warned you British, there are almost two full chapters on Baseball, which I found very boring. I know it is USA history, but could they not have produced a UK edition? It is not until the epilogue things come together, but even then he tends to ramble on somewhat.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Bills books dearly and have all of them from day one, on audio in most formats. They are always well researched and usually well written But this one seemed to promise so much and deliver so little. Perhaps a contractual book?

    Finally as many others have said, it is his reading He is not a bad narrator, just very dry with no emotion. With very few exceptions (Simon Brett and Stephen Fry being two) authors must learn they are authors, not narrators. I am given to understand it can be very well paid which is perhaps why so may try, and usually fail .

    This could have been a so much better book read by William Roberts, who did some of his early books with great aplomb, Roberts brings it alive…. Back off Bill! If you want to start on Bill Bryson go for any of his earlier Travel books, read by Roberts, but not this one. I have given this three stars, but it was only just three stars……

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • P. Tate
    Corfe Castle
    2/3/14
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    "Bill Bryson makes prohibition America interesting"
    Would you listen to One Summer again? Why?

    Yes. This is a cornucopia of loosely connected facts most unfamiliar to an English audience. At last baseball is interesting, the aviation air races understandable and prohibition America now seen in a context where it (almost) makes sense. It was all fascinating.


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

    Babe Ruth


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Prohibition America as it really was.


    Any additional comments?

    It took a minute or two to tune into Bill's voice but his reading was wonderful.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Caroline
    Walsall, United Kingdom
    9/27/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great book, great author, not great narration..."
    What made the experience of listening to One Summer the most enjoyable?

    I've loved all his books, I have all of them, and he goes into such depths and tangets that it's very entertaining.

    He notices the little things, and is hugely entertaining.

    However I'll be buying the actual book to dip into, as the Audible version isn't all that great to listen to. They really should have got a professional narrator to tell the story.


    What didn’t you like about Bill Bryson’s performance?

    Bryson has a weak spoken voice. I've seen him on TV doing documentaries and he's a weak presenter too.


    Any additional comments?

    Recommended, especially to Bryson fans, but if you can, buy the book. It will be on my Xmas list!

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Barbara
    Lewes, East Sussex, United Kingdom
    7/20/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A fascinating history"
    What did you like most about One Summer?

    The interweaving of the threads of events and characters that year. I learned a lot.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Lindbergh? The ups and downs, both literal and metaphorical, vividly showed the times and people.


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

    One of the best. Although amusing in parts, it wasn't laugh out loud funny like some earlier books. Bryson's gentle narration enhanced his excellent narrative. How does he find all this stuff?


    Any additional comments?

    There were several key threads woven through the book, interspersed with numerous surprising anecdotes. The year was pivotal in so many ways. Initially I was unsure about whether I'd find a whole book on one year of American history to be absorbing. It certainly was.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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