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The Lost Continent: Travels In Small Town America | [Bill Bryson]

The Lost Continent: Travels In Small Town America

Hardly anyone ever leaves Des Moines, Iowa. But Bill Bryson did, and after 10 years in England he decided to go home, to a foreign country. In an ageing Chevrolet Chevette, he drove nearly 14,000 miles through 38 states to compile this hilarious and perceptive state-of-the-nation report on small-town America.
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Publisher's Summary

Hardly anyone ever leaves Des Moines, Iowa. But Bill Bryson did, and after 10 years in England he decided to go home, to a foreign country.

In an ageing Chevrolet Chevette, he drove nearly 14,000 miles through 38 states to compile this hilarious and perceptive state-of-the-nation report on small-town America.

From the Deep South to the Wild West, from Elvis' birthplace through to Custer's Last Stand, Bryson visits places he re-named Dullard, Coma, and Doldrum (so the residents don't sue or come after him with baseball bats). But his hopes of finding the American dream end in a nightmare of greed, ignorance, and pollution. This is a wickedly witty and savagely funny assessment of a country lost to itself, and to him.

©1989 Bill Bryson; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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3.8 (154 )
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  •  
    Lou Tempe, AZ, United States 05-04-14
    Lou Tempe, AZ, United States 05-04-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Bill's sophmoric, condescending journey"

    As a longtime devotee of Bill Bryson, I was hugely disappointed in this book. Mr. Bryson somehow left his sense of humor on the dock at Liverpool and returned to America expecting to be disappointed, disillused and dismayed. He was not disappointed. His journey throughout the heartland, south and west of the United States is related in condescending, humorless, and unforgiving fashion that leaves the reader wondering why he did not catch the next plane back to the UK. Predictably nothing he finds approaches the quality, charm, beauty or intelligence of the UK or Europe for that matter. It is an unhappy journey amongst people he finds it impossible to respect and through a land barren of charm or beauty. Worst of all, Mr. Bryson does not narrate this but it is done by Mr. Roberts who seems to turn even the slightest bit of humor into a long, cold look down his long English nose. I couldn't wait to finish this audiobok and would not recommend it to anyone not looking to bash the US at every turn.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike 02-13-14
    Mike 02-13-14
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    "Not one of my favorites"

    This is one of Bryson's earliest books, published in the late 80's. As such, it lacks much of the humor that balances his snarkiness, leaving a book that seems to have been written by a curmudgeon. Americans have a lot of issues, but I found the book mean spirited. I also couldn't figure why he chose to travel during the cold, rainy season when some of the prettiest parts of the west weren't accessible. Maybe he wanted a better comparison with life in England.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas 01-31-13
    Thomas 01-31-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Count's stop laughing superbly read ."
    What made the experience of listening to The Lost Continent the most enjoyable?

    So life like with a lots of humor


    What other book might you compare The Lost Continent to and why?

    Down under by Bill Bryson (as well)


    What about William Roberts’s performance did you like?

    He is a great reader by any standard.


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

    Yes


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason 05-26-12
    Jason 05-26-12 Member Since 2008

    Hi.

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    "I had no idea who he was."

    My girlfriend suggested I listen to this and I had my doubts, but I figured I had little to lose as I am always looking for a good book to listen to. I listened to this while doing a 1000km drive through my home province and a lot of what was being said really sank in and made me laugh. It's a dated book but very good.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cathy Midrand, South Africa 03-15-11
    Cathy Midrand, South Africa 03-15-11
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    "Bill Bryson does America like no-one else!"

    Bill Bryson's ability to sum up a character in a few well-chosen words, combined with his insight into the American psyche, make this a highly enjoyable and easy-to-listen-to book. I loved it - from beginning to end.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kasandra BeachleyUnited Kingdom 01-09-09
    Kasandra BeachleyUnited Kingdom 01-09-09
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    "Every bit as good"

    As all the others he's released. Insightful and funny.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. S. Cohen New York, NY USA 08-11-14
    M. S. Cohen New York, NY USA 08-11-14 Member Since 2003
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    "Written by Bryson's evil twin"

    I have listened to every one of Bryson's audio books here on Audible.com.

    I really like Bryson. He makes even the most mundane topics engrossing.

    And it's not that he completely hates America. A Short Walk where he talks about hiking the Appalacian Trail is wonderful and very positive.

    But in this early book his nastiness on American is not just palpable, it's suffocating.

    In addition, instead of Bryson's warm, folksy reading that I have come to enjoy, William Roberts's reading makes even warm thoughts on America come out snide and snarky.

    I pushed myself to listen to the whole thing so I would feel entitled to write a review.

    But if I could, I would have rewound the tape to erase it from my brain.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel 08-10-14
    Rachel 08-10-14 Member Since 2013
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    "There are better Bill Bryson audiobooks"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Have the older, kinder Bill Bryson go back in time and take this journey. While some of his commentary was both hilarious and heartwarming, like many other reviewers, I was startled at how mean-spirited this book could be in comparison to Bryson's later works. He is comparatively positive about Iowa and the Midwest, as he waxes nostalgic about his childhood in Des Moines (and as an Iowan myself, I both confirm his assessment of our state and breathe a sigh of relief that his memories were good ones!) His commentary on other regions, particularly the South and Appalachia, was gratingly negative. Perhaps he was still in the process of finding his comedic voice, but I often found myself sympathizing with the unassuming and often kind people he was lampooning. The reader choice did not help matters any.


    What other book might you compare The Lost Continent to and why?

    Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe.


    What didn’t you like about William Roberts’s performance?

    This is Bryson at his most...curmudgeonly...and William Roberts was perhaps not the best narrator for this task. My first encounter with this book was of the dead trees variety; I noticed the negative tone then, but Roberts seemed to draw it out in the worst way, making the narrator seem even more smug, arrogant and rude, when Bryson's voice tends to be more self-deprecating and light-hearted. The advantage of this version is that it is unabridged; perhaps I was better off with my old beaten-up paperback, read in my head with Bryson's less irritating voice.


    Was The Lost Continent worth the listening time?

    If you are a Bryson fan, perhaps try to find a version that he reads himself.

    On the whole, I would still recommend the book, but not as an introduction to Bill Bryson if you haven't read any of his stuff before. He's less of a jerk in his later books, so if you've read Neither Here nor There, A Walk in the Woods, or Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, you'll approach The Lost Continent in a more forgiving mood. This is his first major book, and he's still honing his voice.

    It's also worth listening to simply because you can see the connections between his travels and topics that he covers in his later works, for instance, his near-visit to the Biltmore Mansion vis-a-vis his lengthy treatment of the Vanderbilt family in At Home: A History of Private Life. Don't expect that level of research in this book--this is primarily a travelogue--but it is interesting to get a glimpse of the context behind some of his more recent nonfiction books.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    perry HARRISON, AR, United States 06-26-14
    perry HARRISON, AR, United States 06-26-14
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    "Not read by the author"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    no, I would recommend the abridged version as it's read by the author Bill Bryson.


    What other book might you compare The Lost Continent to and why?

    all of bill bryson books...as long as they're narrated by him.


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

    no


    Was The Lost Continent worth the listening time?

    yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Audubon, NJ, United States 06-05-14
    James Audubon, NJ, United States 06-05-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Not my favorite B.B. book."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    No. I read this book years ago, and thought I liked it. Ive read most of Bill Bryson's books, and consider myself a fan. Listening to Lost Continent, I realized it is much more mean spirited then I remembered. I was very surprised, and a little disappointed.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Mr. Bryson does find some interesting things along the way on his road trip, but has very little charity for when his expectations are not met. I guess the tittle "Lost Continent" should have clued me in that his opinion of the trip was mostly negative.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Mr. Bryson revels in mocking several of the places he visits. He does this in many of his travel logs, but seldom so often or with such enthusiasm.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    I read this book once before, and remembered it being more light hearted and fun. Hearing it in the author's own voice somehow makes it seem more serious and his attacks more vicious.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 16 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Miss
    Dartford, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "The road trip you're dying to take"

    I won't be the first person to tell you that Bryson is smart, funny, and has absorbed British sarcasm by osmosis so seamlessly that it almost trumps us when narrated in the velvety American accent of the actor on this audiobook. Small town America is pulled apart, examined forensically by each of its cast of stock characters and institutions, and then put back together with a new-found affection by both you and the author. This book is like dismantling an old Chevy, finding that it still works, restoring it and then driving it around proudly. You'll feel both the European distaste for anything nouveau that Bryson has adopted, and the universal pull towards Americana. Brilliant.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Peter
    Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom
    10/1/09
    Overall
    "Worth the subscription on its own .."

    What a gem! Tasked with a new routine that involved more bus journeys, I popped this on my 'pod to accompany me to work. Bad idea. I find very few things make me laugh out loud in public but this is most definitely an exception. On more than one occasion I found myself biting into my fingers to suppress a snort of laughter when all else was calm. He writes like blokes in the pub talk; with honesty and vivid descriptions of events where you can actually see them without being there. There's the occasional expletive thrown in but used in such a way as to reveal his true feelings in certain situations. The narrator Roberts is perfect, I'm sure Bill approves.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Andrew
    droghedaIreland
    11/30/09
    Overall
    "Bill Bryson"

    Have listened to this book and found it brilliant,very well written by Bryson and great narration by William Roberts. Fantastic wit, some informative insights into rural American small town life, and great when he throws in the odd 4 letter word. I will be downloading all Byrson books in the near future but only the ones with Roberts narrating, he does a wonderful job.
    They make a great team. If you are like me and have looked at these books and were not sure if you would like them, just listen to one.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Anthony
    Plumbridge, United Kingdom
    7/12/13
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    "Fantastic!"
    Where does The Lost Continent rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is without doubt the best audiobook i have listened to thus far.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The only real character in the book, the man himself, Bill Bryson!


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

    This is the first time i have listened to a William Roberts performance, the man is an absolute genius. I found myself still sitting in my car long after i had parked up, still listening to him. I couldn't tear myself away!


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

    Apart from laugh most of the way through it, the book also brought feelings of nostalgia and that heart warming feeling you get from remembering the good times when you were a child.


    Any additional comments?

    I would highly recommend this audiobook to anyone i know, and everyone i don't! It is expertly read and a joy to listen to from start to finish. Another gem from Bill Bryson.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Marvin
    Lincoln, United Kingdom
    9/20/12
    Overall
    "Mr Bryson does it again.....excellent."

    Once again another great listen from a Mr Bryson book. His trip around nearly all the US states has it all, pride, shame, fear about his homeland but above all it's really funny. You certainly cannot accuse Mr Bryson of being completely (and typically) gung-ho about his country and compatriots and he does tell it how it is. I certainly would recommend having a map of the country handy too so you can try and follow his progress.



    As for the Roberts vs Bryson debate that other reviewers mention, I think they are both great narrators. So there!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ann
    Newcastle, England
    7/25/14
    Overall
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    "Not up to the hype!"
    What was most disappointing about Bill Bryson’s story?

    Having done several road trips around America, I don't feel this book did it justice. There are of course tedious things along the way and some odd balls, but most people are friendly and interesting in their own way. I did laugh out loud several times (I listened to about 90 minutes) at things like the bizarre lack of information on US road maps and road signs (accurate), but Bill Bryson's relentless disrespect for decent people as he poked fun at them offended me. It soon became clear that this 'humour' would constitute most of the book, so I will be getting a refund on this one.


    Any additional comments?

    If your idea of humour is laughing at people because they are overweight, have a learning disability or have simple lives, this might be for you. If you have more respect for your fellow humans, move along in your search!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • forever reading
    East Sussex
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bill Bryson says what we'd like to say but don't!"
    If you could sum up The Lost Continent in three words, what would they be?

    witty, incisive, educational(!)


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The USA - such a diverse country


    What about William Roberts’s performance did you like?

    Spot-on. His voice matches Mr Bryson's acerbic wit perfectly.


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

    You won't believe the things Bill Bryson sees!


    Any additional comments?

    I have had this book on tape which has worn out due to the number of times I have played it so it was a joy to discover this on download. It still makes me laugh - don't listen whilst driving unless you don't mind the odds looks from other motorists.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nicky Beet
    5/26/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "funny in most parts"
    What made the experience of listening to The Lost Continent the most enjoyable?

    Bryson has an easy&enjoyable style that makes it easy to get into his books


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

    Laugh


    Any additional comments?

    Im assuming it is just due to the time the book was written but there are several passages that just seemed sexist or condesending.that aside it was a good book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • review name
    London, UK
    12/13/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A great read"
    If you could sum up The Lost Continent in three words, what would they be?

    Funny, informative, interesting


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Bill tells the story of his travels so well. There is humor and facts, which makes for a really good listen.


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

    I listened to Down Under by Bryson also narrated by Robert's and he narrates well, very enjoyable to listen to.


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

    The book was very well written and kept me listening for longer than I had time for.


    Any additional comments?

    Bill Bryson writes the most enjoyable and interesting factual books and travel journals. Well worth a listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sally
    KIDDERMINSTER, United Kingdom
    4/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not for me"

    Having never read a Bill Bryson book I decided to give this audiobook a try. I did not enjoy this and only managed to get half way through, I did not enjoy the content which I found uninteresting and the narration was very dull. If I had the time to look how to get a refund I would definitely request one.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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