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Publisher's Summary

Some say that the first hint that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came when his mother sent him to school in lime-green Capri pants. Others think it all started with his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the moth-holed chest was a golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns out of people's hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his jeans in the manner of Superman.

Bill Bryson's first travel book opened with the immortal line, "I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to." In his deeply funny new memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, and the curious world of 1950s America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes, and nuclear fallout. This is a book about growing up in a specific time and place. But in Bryson's hands, it becomes everyone's story, one that will speak volumes: especially to anyone who has ever been young.

©Bill Bryson; (P)Corgi Audio

Critic Reviews

"Hugely funny (not snigger-snigger funny, but great-big-belly-laugh-till-you-cry funny)." (Daily Telegraph)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Delightful to drop into

Bill Bryson has provided us the perfect audio book. His funny, gentle and delightful collection of stories, facts and anecdotes of growing up provide great entertainment. Loosely collected around themes and roughly chronological, Mr. Bryson explores many different aspects of mid-west USA in the 1950s and early 60s. You can listen to any point at any time to have some fun.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Beth
  • Colyton NSWAustralia
  • 03-22-08

Need to try unabridged version

There was some interesting stuff here that reminded me of my own childhood, but I think I might need to hear the WHOLE story to appreciate it.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • 10-19-06

Another 'Bill' Classic

Anyone who loves Bryson's other works will love this. No ordinary biography - rather a nostalgic snapshot of life as a child in Iowa in the 1950s, complete with observations on society, the threat of a third world war and a sense of innocence long since forgotten.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-04-07

Should have a warning label!

The warning don't 'drive and listen' should appear on this title. I have listened to it while travelling back and forwards from work and let me tell you, it's hard to drive with laughter tears in your eyes! I had to pull over when at the part about his fathers night time snacks I was laughing so hard. This is without a doubt the funniest book on childhood memories I have ever come across. It is perfectly written and read. Do not miss this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lorraine
  • 01-03-07

Vaporised.....

Another wonderfully funny book from Bill Bryson. Accompany little extra-terrestrial 'Billy' on a delightful stroll through 1950's Iowa with stops along the way to sample the air, browse a comic, sip chocolate milk at the local diner or vaporise an annoying opponent with a hard stare. The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid combines laser-sharp humour and clear-eyed nostalgia occasionally interrupted by world events that only ever threaten to nudge the apple-cart rather than upset it entirely.

Read by Bill Bryson who sounds faintly embarrassed that anyone would seriously want to hear about this stuff, let alone find it endearing. Loved every minute.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dermot
  • 06-02-07

Worth it for Bryson's voice alone!

I'm an avid Bill Bryson fan, and own all of his books, and have built up quite a collection of his spoken word books. I'll get onto the book in a moment, but it seems to me that no other person can match Bill Bryson for reading his own words. I have how books read by excellent readers, but Bryson has a calm, soothing and friendly voice that is great to listen to. On the book, if you know his work then this is pretty much more of the same. It tells his own story growing up in a long gone but attractive and exciting provincial 50's and 60's America. Although centred in Des Moines, it really tells the story of that whole baby boomer period after the war, the whole American dream timeframe, comforting and middle class. The book is abridged very well, and last for around as long as it takes me to drive between London and Glasgow! I would recommend.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • linda goodall
  • 06-21-15

Loved it.

Re-lived my childhood through this book, and lament the by gone era that was so safe for children growing up then. Bill's humour and accuracies of explaining the innocent working of children's thoughts is a must read.