Audie Award Finalist, History, 2014
One of the most admired nonfiction writers of our time retells the story of one truly fabulous year in the life of his native country - a fascinating and gripping narrative featuring such outsized American heroes as Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, and yes Herbert Hoover, and a gallery of criminals (Al Capone), eccentrics (Shipwreck Kelly), and close-mouthed politicians (Calvin Coolidge). It was the year Americans attempted and accomplished outsized things and came of age in a big, brawling manner. What a country. What a summer. And what a writer to bring it all so vividly alive for us in this certain best-seller.
©2013 Bill Bryson (P)2013 Random House Audio
I stuck with this book for the duration, and the story--interwoven stories really--were interesting and well told. The reason it was hard to stay the course, however, was Bill Bryson's performance. I found his voice strange in affect, cadence and pronunciation. His odd manner and herky jerky style were a constant distraction for me. I can't imagine why he was allowed to do his own narration, so I can only assume that he insisted. Too bad, because the book really is worth your time. I'd just recommend you get it through your eyes instead of your ears.
A delightful book, full of great stories, great characters, and great insights. Bryson's writing is as charming and entertaining as ever.
Unfortunately, Mr. Bryson's narration is notably halting and stilted throughout—not nearly as coherent as his reading of "In a Sunburned Country," or "At Home." I'm hoping his next book will be narrated by Richard Matthews, who did such a wonderful job with "A Short History of Nearly Everything."
In spite of that, the audiobook is fascinating and fun, and the author's less-than-perfect narration shouldn't keep you from enjoying it. It brings back a wonderful slice of American history that will leave you feeling fullfilled and enriched.
This is one of the best books I have listened to, and I have been a member for many years. Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh and many people I have never heard of. Who would think to write about an executioner? But it's all woven together beautifully. And I love the author's delivery. Not all authors should be reading their own books, but Bryson is perfect. I plan to listen to One Summer again.
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
Nobody writes minutiae like Bill Bryson, but that's a good thing. He manages to take some big events along with odd tidbits about people and tie them together in an interesting and entertaining way in One Summer: America, 1927. The summer begins with Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic and goes on to include Babe Ruth and his 60 home runs, Prohibition, Sacco and Vanzetti, the Great Mississippi Flood, Henry Ford, and Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum. But wait; there’s more! Gertrude Ederle (“the most forgotten person in America”), Calvin Coolidge’s naps and cowboy uniform, Ruth Snyder and her corset salesman lover Judd Gray (the basis of Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice), and Shipwreck Kelly, flagpole sitter. But wait; there’s still more! That may be one of the books weaknesses. There are times when Bryson’s detours begin to get slightly tedious, and dare I say boring, but the plethora of information is also one of the book’s strengths. Bryson managed to give me a better understanding of everything that was going on during this particular summer and how these people and events interacted, like how Hoover’s leadership during the Great Mississippi Flood put him in position for the presidency. One Summer: America, 1927 is not an exhaustive, extensively-researched, focused history, but it is an accessible, easy to read work that is both educational and entertaining. The fact that I got to listen to Bill Bryson read his own book on audio makes it even better.
One of my favorite authors but not one of my favorite's by him. Would definitely recommend A Short History of Nearly Everything and Neither Here Nor There.
No one should narrate Bryson except Bryson. He is always superbly himself:)
This was, as always, entertaining and informative. Several other books by Bill Bryson have set the bar and this one didn't quite measure up.
I am a huge fan of Bill Bryson's books and read or listen to them over and over. I find it unusual for an author to be a successful reader of his own books, but Bryson is a riot. His flat, matter-of-fact presentation has a way of making the most mundane of subjects hilarious.
Ok, so I LUV Bill Bryson. I do believe I have all of his books and I recommend all of them. That said, this one is interesting, but doesn't have quite as many turn of phrases that make me chuckle even though I've heard it many times before. You know, when you want to rewind, and are stuck between admiration and envy for someone who can so eloquently describe a moment when one has lost one's way, one's dignity and is still just so damn grateful to be basically intact-ish? But moments later feels irritated by basic letdowns like a crummy yet overpriced hotel room?
I'm going to put this one on par with a "Short History..." But a notch below "A walk In The Woods". So get it, enjoy it, then relisten to some of his classics.
I like the way that he comes into and out of the year with such ease Also The Manner He dovetails all the stories at the most important time Hey has a way with words
This is a zippy pop-history of the summer of 1927 in the United States. Without going into any one subject in great detail, Bryson paints a picture of a nation blissfully ignorant of the coming dark days of the Great Depression.
In broad strokes, Bryson recounts the plans & groundbreaking of Mt. Rushmore; Babe Ruth's historic 1927 season and his friendship/rivalry with Lou Gehrig; the toll of The Great Flood; Herbert Hoover's vast reach; Calvin Coolidge's seeming apathy toward the presidency; the landmark musical Showboat; the invention of television alongside the role of radio and film in American life; and, most importantly (and the only subject on which he goes a little deeper than the basic facts) the remarkable response to Charles Lindbergh's famous flight across the Atlantic.
As a narrator, Bryson's hybrid British-American accent can be a bit grating on American ears—"opulent" is pronounced with a long O, for example. It's a minor quibble but worth considering before spending 17 hours listening to the book.
Overall, I found this to be a fun history that will make you feel less guilty for caring more about Ben Affleck's casting as Batman than impending war in Syria; Americans in 1927 turned a blind eye to the myriad disasters, atrocious crimes, and clear warning signs of an economy on the brink in favor of obsessing about baseball, Lindbergh, boxing, and flagpole-sitting.
Bryson almost gleefully portrays Americans as absurdly guileless people, and there is a touch of melancholy to this—since 1927, we have become a nation that has faced a series of challenges that have left us less innocent. Thinking back from The Great Depression – The Great Recession, the summer of 1927 might have been the last time we were a buoyant country.
I have read and loved all of Bill Bryson's books. In this one, Bryson takes many moments in American history and masterfully weaves them together to create an enormously enjoyable book. I highly recommend it.
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