©1994 Bill Bryson; (P)2002 BBC Audiobooks Limited
"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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Come back to us Bill Bryson. We miss you.
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/
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,
Such interesting history behind how words come into existence. The book has so much information and research behind it.
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.
Don't know - haven't read the print!
I have read several of Bill Bryson's book and find him one of the best at relating history in an interesting way. He does a fine job in this book highlighting mostly American phrases and how they came about, but covers an incredible amount of other items like how shopping centers ended the downtown department store era and the evolution of the American made car.
The only negative I can say is that some of the lists of items he goes over, particularly in the phrases area, are a bit long and get old pretty quick. It can be a bit of a uneasy ride as he describes a fascinating period of time, then goes into a list of words that came about from that period. I found myself checking out halfway through many of those lists, but I think it's worth the annoyance and a little patience goes a long way.
Some of this material is covered in his "One Summer: America 1927" book, which I imagine he found that year so fascinating while working on this book (I can't recommend 1927 enough BTW, awesome book!).
Overall this is a great listen and a treasure for any American who loves understanding of the culture around them. I think baby boomers would absolutely love this as it would be a trip down memory lane through the golden years.
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.
"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.
Anyone who loves language and fancies themselves an arm-chair historian will absolutely love this book. Wonderfully read by William Roberts. Download it NOW!
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.
"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.
"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.
"Made in America"
Very interesting and well read.
Goes off subject and gets a bit duller towards the end
"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.
"Needs an abridger"
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)
What a mix
Showing what a insecure bunch the Americans'
Can read a book whilst working in the garden
Gave me another view of the USA
Bill Byron can be listened to, over and over again, the man is fantastic
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