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Made in America | [Bill Bryson]

Made in America

In Made in America, Bryson de-mythologizes his native land, explaining how a dusty hamlet with neither woods nor holly became Hollywood, how the Wild West wasn't won, why Americans say 'lootenant' and 'Toosday', how Americans were eating junk food long before the word itself was cooked up, as well as exposing the true origins of the G-string, the original $64,000 question, and Dr Kellogg of cornflakes fame.
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Publisher's Summary

In Made in America, Bryson de-mythologizes his native land, explaining how a dusty hamlet with neither woods nor holly became Hollywood, how the Wild West wasn't won, why Americans say 'lootenant' and 'Toosday', how Americans were eating junk food long before the word itself was cooked up, as well as exposing the true origins of the G-string, the original $64,000 question, and Dr Kellogg of cornflakes fame.

©1994 Bill Bryson; (P)2002 BBC Audiobooks Limited

What the Critics Say

"Bryson offers a playfully anecdotal account of the etymology of distinctive words and phrases that help to create a distinctly American English." (Publishers Weekly)
"A treat....Filled with surprises....A literate exploration of why we use, or mangle, our native tongue." (USA Today)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (331 )
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3.9 (254 )
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Performance
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  •  
    John Los Angeles, CA, United States 02-28-14
    John Los Angeles, CA, United States 02-28-14 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bryson Not Reading Makes For a Rare Fail"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Bill Bryson is both a great writer and reader. His books have been a high point in my time here at Audible, but the William Roberts doesn't get Bryson's pacing or timing and as a result much of the humor is lost. If Audible could get a rerecord, I would recommend this, but I would suggest not downloading it and reading it on paper or digital over this performance.


    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas S Kovacs United States 01-09-14
    Thomas S Kovacs United States 01-09-14 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bryson OK Roberts not so much"
    Would you listen to Made in America again? Why?

    I just started to listen but one thing is very clear to me,Bill Bryson needs to read his own books. The narrator doesn't make me want to keep listening but I will.


    Would you be willing to try another one of William Roberts’s performances?

    No


    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard United States 04-29-14
    Richard United States 04-29-14 Member Since 2006
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    "so many mispronunciations"
    Any additional comments?

    Bill Bryson ALWAYS tells a fascinating story but the reader, William Roberts, should have had some guidance how to pronounce MANY place names. It became increasingly irritating. Too bad Bryson did not read it himself. He's a fine reader/

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean CM Marin, CA, USA 01-29-14
    Sean CM Marin, CA, USA 01-29-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Just okay."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    It is basically Bill Bryson's latest formula book. A fair amount of interesting stuff but no plot or any real coherent theme. A fair amount of information on word origins but really just another book of Bryson's somewhat humorous thoughts. Not nearly as good as his older books. The reader is not as good as Bryson as he does not seem to grasp the intended humor of what he is reading.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Book fan Seattle, WA 06-17-14
    Book fan Seattle, WA 06-17-14 Member Since 2005

    book fan

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Where oh where is Bill?"
    Would you try another book from Bill Bryson and/or William Roberts?

    I love (almost) everything Bill Bryson writes, especially A Brief History of Nearly Everything. More recently, Shakespeare was good but not great. I am now only through the FIRST chapter (of six) in this book, Made in America, and it is horrible. At least half of this chapter is a repeat of Bryson's etymology lessons in Shakespeare, and the rest is like someone literally reading from a dictionary.


    What could Bill Bryson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    This book is (so far) devoid of the meandering but amusing "yarns" of which Bryson typically makes good use. This book is bland, repetitive, shallow and lacks any coherent overarching story upon which to hang what feels like a Google look-up of a list of words.


    Would you be willing to try another one of William Roberts’s performances?

    Mr. Roberts tone was flat and uninteresting. It is neither pleasant, nor does it convey any emotion as to better inform the reader when something of excitement is going on. Admittedly in this book there seems to have been no such excitement, but I expected more. I miss Bill Bryson's voice narrating, and Mr. Roberts was notably bland.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I would be thrilled to learn my purchase bought Mr. Bryson a drink or fine meal. Given how poor this book has been, he owes me one.


    Any additional comments?

    Come back to us Bill Bryson. We miss you.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tushan West MeltonAustralia 09-30-08
    Tushan West MeltonAustralia 09-30-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Made In America"

    A fantastic listen as it is very well written and read. The anecdotes and historical context to the subject matter are very interesting. I loved it and would definitely recommend it.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bec Canberra, Australia 12-04-11
    Bec Canberra, Australia 12-04-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What an unexpected pleasure!"
    What did you love best about Made in America?

    Having listened to Bill Bryson read his own works before, I was initially disappointed by the reading of William Roberts. However, further into the book, his impressions and characterised quotations brought the book to life and had me laughing out loud to the story! By the end, I wondered what I had ever been upset about and adored Roberts rendition. His accent and liveliness brought much needed drama to this very informally written, yet of a formal nature, text.

    An avid language curiositist, I often ask,


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna Bryanston, South Africa 10-29-12
    Donna Bryanston, South Africa 10-29-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyed the information!"
    What made the experience of listening to Made in America the most enjoyable?

    Such interesting history behind how words come into existence. The book has so much information and research behind it.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Auckland, New Zealand 05-24-11
    Lisa Auckland, New Zealand 05-24-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brilliant as always"

    Absorbing, entertaining and funny as Bill always is. No one else can pass on such interesting and detailed research as Bill does, while making you laugh the whole way. Highly recommended.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet holland, MI, United States 09-30-14
    Janet holland, MI, United States 09-30-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    39
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    "Lost in the details, not Bryson's typical work"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    not -- while interesting potential, it's not as sardonic or gripping as Bryson's other work


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

    Bryson should read his own work -- always
    Nobody can get the tone right on the humorously pedantic stuff like he man himself


    Would you be willing to try another one of William Roberts’s performances?

    Maybe


    Did Made in America inspire you to do anything?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    I love most everything Bryson has written
    The topic has potential in his hands, I'm sorry it's not up to his typical level of making things like this so much more appealing than most writers could. It's better than most writers could have done, but not as much fun a listen as any other thing I've heard of his work

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 19 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Sam
    Newtown , Powys , United Kingdom
    3/22/09
    Overall
    "Fantastic!"

    As with all Bill Bryson, he does not just take you, in this case on an adventure of the formation of language in America, but brushes on the expansive history of America and the world, yet does not drift into irrelevancy. His ridiculously well written book gives you the history of 1,000's of words and cleverly places them into a relevant context.

    My *only* complaint is that when the reader, (who reads fantastically) spells words out, I find it rather hard to keep up, the book obviously being primarily written for print. However this is infrequent and I suggest that this is based on my own faults, and should not stop you from buying this fantastic book.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Tom
    StockportUnited Kingdom
    5/12/10
    Overall
    "A history of America through its language"

    As a native Brit I wondered how interesting a book about American English would be to me. I was also rather concerned about the scope of this book - how on Earth could Bill Bryson fill such a long time with what seemed like such a limited topic?

    My concerns on both counts were unfounded. It turns out that most of the Americanisms that Bill Bryson covers in his book are so embedded in British English now that we don't even think of them as Americanisms any more. Interestingly it also works in reverse - many things we think of as Americanisms actually started out in Britain!

    On the second count, Bill Bryson does far more than just list words that are Americanisms and research their origins. He puts them in their cultural context, and indeed in some ways this book is more of a history of America told through the development of its language. Indeed, at some points the link between the topic being covered and the development of American English is distant to say the least.

    Despite its considerable length, this book kept my interest throughout. The only issue I can really highlight is that it does get a bit confusing sometimes when words are being spelt out, but this happens only occasionally and is not a serious issue. Apart from this, the narration is brilliant and adds to what is already an excellent book.

    All in all, a highly recommended book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • James
    Boston, United Kingdom
    5/30/11
    Overall
    "FAN-tastic"

    Anyone who loves language and fancies themselves an arm-chair historian will absolutely love this book. Wonderfully read by William Roberts. Download it NOW!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Adrian
    Norwich, United Kingdom
    4/10/13
    Overall
    "First Rate"

    Bill Bryson is a first-rate story teller, bringing history to life with rich insights and perspective. Also, it should be noted that William Roberts's narration is so good that you don't notice it's there and I say that as the highest compliment.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Lindsay Kay Caddy
    Guildford, United Kingdom
    7/18/11
    Overall
    "One of the poorer Bryson books"

    I enjoyed this book but it was very annoying in places with constant lists of words but even more tedious was listening to lists of individual words being spelt out. The facts in the book were vaguely interesting but not so interesting that you would bother relaying the fact to anyone else or bringing it up in conversation. Overall a bland book, wellr esearched but not a page turner.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    6/3/11
    Overall
    "No more questions left."

    As with all Bill Bryson's books I find myself waiting on tender hooks for the next mind blowing lesson. I'm sure everyone out there in listensville will learn more in a chapter about the way our cousins across the pond live and think than if you watched any ANY TV from the past 50 years. I am i awe of this great author. Especially when Bill still considers 50 cents a good tip.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    3/27/10
    Overall
    "Made in America"

    Very interesting and well read.
    Goes off subject and gets a bit duller towards the end

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jonathan
    st albans, herts, United Kingdom
    9/28/10
    Overall
    "A mind numbing snorefest"

    After 3 hours of listening to the admirable narrator pronouncing a series of words and then pronouncing them slightly differently I gave up on the promises made by other reviewers of fascinating history of the US and put this one down to experience. If its a broad survey of US history you are after then try the Empire of Liberty series. However, if its 20 hours of how the early pilgrims pronounced bound as band and other such fascinating pieces of information then this is the one for you.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Nigel
    8/17/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Needs an abridger"
    Any additional comments?

    Having read the print version a few times - it's a mine of fascinating facts for a history / culture / linguistics nerd! - I hoped this would translate to audio as well as other "written Bryson / narrated Roberts" books would, but unfortunately there's just too much information for it to really work as an audiobook. With a good editor / abridger, this could be condensed into a much more listenable 6-10 hour book rather than 18 hours of struggle (which, I'm sorry to say, I gave up on)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • sandra
    DEAL, United Kingdom
    7/10/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "other triump"
    If you could sum up Made in America in three words, what would they be?

    What a mix


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Made in America?

    Showing what a insecure bunch the Americans'


    What does William Roberts bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Can read a book whilst working in the garden


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

    Gave me another view of the USA


    Any additional comments?

    Bill Byron can be listened to, over and over again, the man is fantastic

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 12 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

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