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Publisher's Summary

Audible is proud to present One Summer: America, 1927, the new book by Britain’s favourite writer of narrative nonfiction, Bill Bryson.

Narrated by the man himself, One Summer takes you to the summer when America came of age, took centre stage, and changed the world forever. In the summer of 1927, America had a booming stock market, a president who worked just four hours a day, a semi-crazed sculptor with a plan to carve four giant heads into a mountain called Rushmore, a devastating flood of the Mississippi, a sensational murder trial, and a youthful aviator named Charles Lindbergh who started the summer wholly unknown, and finished it as the most famous man on Earth.

It was the summer of the first talking pictures, the invention of television, the peak of Al Capone's reign of terror, the ill-conceived decision that led to the Great Depression, and the thrillingly improbable return to greatness of a wheezing, over-the-hill baseball player named Babe Ruth.

With an unforgettable cast of personalities, Bill Bryson spins a story of brawling adventure, reckless optimism, and delirious energy. What a country; what a summer; and what a writer to bring it all so vividly to life.

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951; he moved to and settled in England in 1977, working in journalism until becoming a full-time author. Bryson is much-loved for his best-selling travel books, from The Lost Continent to Down Under, and Notes from a Small Island earned a particularly special place in the nation's heart - a national poll for World Book Day voted it the book that best represents Britain. A Short History of Nearly Everything won the Aventis Prize for Science Books and the Descartes Science Communication Prize. Bryson has also written a memoir, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, and acclaimed books on language and social history (Mother Tongue, Made in America, At Home).

He lives in the UK with his wife and family, and was awarded an honorary OBE for services to literature.

©2013 Bill Bryson (P)2013 Audible Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Simon
  • Windsor, United Kingdom
  • 05-10-14

Bill in usual greatness... but too much baseball!

Would you consider the audio edition of One Summer to be better than the print version?

Yes, Brysons dry narration is always a joy

Would you be willing to try another book from Bill Bryson? Why or why not?

I already own all of them

Have you listened to any of Bill Bryson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Exactly the same as usual - if you like Bryson this is a definite buy.. but if you dont then avoid it!

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

There are moments of history that are extremely saddening, and Bryson gives his perspective. However most of the book is humorous to laugh out loud. <br/><br/>It's collection of happenings and events that are loosely tied around one theme - the summer of 1927. It's like having him round for dinner and saying.. tell us a story or two Bill.

Any additional comments?

TOO MUCH BASEBALL! I know his Dad was a baseball reporter and Im sure its a fab sport but wayyy too much coverage in this book

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A remarkable year. Or was it?

The Summer of 1927 in America was a remarkable time. Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic alone in a tiny plane and set off a hero-worship frenzy. Not just in the USA but across the globe. Television was born and Radio exploded. As did bombs set off by anarchists across the country. Criminals were electrocuted and Prohibition made other criminals rich. Bill Bryson tells this story in his unique style; finding the coincidences the curiosities and the connections that bring it all together in a way that is fascinating and at times, laugh-out-loud funny.

It was a remarkable year. But then I think Bill Bryson could throw a dart at a calendar, hitting any season in any year in any country, and turn it into a compelling story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Woonona, Australia
  • 09-29-13

Bill Bryson and his stunning works

Bill Bryson has yet again shown his exceptional talent for the creation of entertaining and instructive non-fiction texts. To those who have already listened or read a Bill Bryson title, you know that his work is unparalleled in its' ability to instruct and entertain using true stories and Bill Bryson's excellent research.

One Summer America 1927, basically tells you what the book is focussed on. This brief period of time in the first half of the 20th century laid the ground work for many and varied events on the world stage. This was the time of the "roaring twenties", the pre-depression period, the creation of many ideas, inventions and dreams. America was reaching a turning point that would help to change the world forever.

This book tells the tales of audacious aircraft pilots, pioneering inventors, sports stars, bucking politicians, dastardly murderers and ploting mobsters. Bill Bryson delves into the depths of matters of this period and analyses the effects of the happenings on the future and how they were effected by the past.

One Summer America 1927 is a stunning example of Bill Bryson's best work and is delightfully humorous and clever whilst being able to instruct and inform.

So listen on, for there is One Summer in America during 1927 that is amazing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • Papakura, New Zealand
  • 09-28-13

Bryson , Great as Usual...

Bryson researches his books so well and puts them together in a way that make them fascinating to read or listen to. I like listening to Bill Bryson narrate as well. I suspect he could make almost anything interesting. If you've liked any of his previous books you will no doubt enjoy this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Interesting and captivating but too many figures

A few strong characters that force you stay with the book but way to many minor characters that distracted from the main threads. Impressive research and a recommended read for anyone that likes adventures and hero stories, the real ones

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As with all his books - just loved it!

Bill Bryson has a way with words that perfectly captures the moment. As if you were a present observer during the event he relays. This, plus his gift for pointing out the most interesting nuggets of historical events, guarantees an entertainment experience bettered only by a handful of things. I think he may even have invented a genre, intentionally or otherwise.

The audio book format means you can listen to it while driving, gardening, fishing, walking, taking a bath, or any equally unengaging activity that has to be done, but where you can't necessarily stop and read from a book. That means (if you're as distractable as me), that you can actually finish a book before forgetting what happened in the first few chapters before you even get to the end!

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So many things happened in the summer of 1927

Would you listen to One Summer again? Why?

Yes, I there are just so many details in there that it would be a treasure to go back and re-hear how everything is related.

What does Bill Bryson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

It's like having an amusing conversation with an entertaining uncle.

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So interesting!

This book exceeded my expectations. Lots of wonderful and interesting stories and anecdotes from popular and widely covered public figures as Lindbergh, Capone and Ruth through to stories from characters I had never heard of. Great interweaving of personalities told with great rhythm and sense of humour. I hope a writer like Bill Bryson comes along 100 years from now and writes and narrates as interesting a story about our present times as Bill did about 1927.

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Another great book from Mr. Bryson

Would you consider the audio edition of One Summer to be better than the print version?

I have not read the printed version, but I always prefer the audio version of any book..as long as the narrator is a good one and Mr. Bryson is an excellent reader.

What was one of the most memorable moments of One Summer?

Too many to mention...but I guess that the one that really sticks in my mind is the lengths the US Government went to stop people from drinking...adding strychnine??

Have you listened to any of Bill Bryson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes and they are all very well written and read, I cannot remember a single one I did not enjoy. He always provides more that you expect.

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

Yes as much as was possible.

Any additional comments?

I definitely recommend it as a great and informative listen.

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another great read from Mr Bryson

What did you love best about One Summer?

with this and 'At Home', the reader goes on a very interesting journey through the past brought to life not by dates and events, but by real life stories told well and very well researched, at least as far as I can tell.<br/>once again thank you Mr Bryson, also for narrating it personally.

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  • Colin
  • 10-21-13

Bryson hits another Home Run

I've long been a fan of Bill Bryson's books and this latest release continues to raise the bar on his fellow writers. At once engaging and informative Bryson connects with the listener from the outset and the pace never flags. With characters such as Babe Ruth, Al Capone, Woodrow Wilson, Jack Dempsey and, of course, Charles Lindburgh the narrative guides the listener through what was a golden time in America's history.

The book looks at a wealth of topics from aviation, sport, politics, prohibition and the rise of the movies. I was particularly interested in the sections about the Anarchists who sent parcel bombs to leading political and authority figures. One failed to go off so the police thought it would be a good idea to take it back to the station for further investigation, where it promptly exploded, killing ten officers and some members of the public.

An excellent,informative book and like all of Bryson's work, worthy of repeated listenings. I almost wish I had a road trip coming up as this would be the perfect accompaniment

Highly recommended

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Terrific Terrapin
  • 09-30-13

Bill Bryson Does It Again

Bill Bryson has a clever way of making everything interesting. Even subjects I'm not normally bothered about. He has a fantastic dry wit and an entertaining way of putting things across. He's one of those rare authors I'd actually like to meet and have a cuppa with. Also, I normally hate it when the author reads their own work, but I must say I enjoy his laid-back tone and his unique accent - USA/UK. Well done, Bill. Great work. Can't wait to see what you've got to show us next.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Kirstine
  • 12-27-15

Bored by all the hours about baseball

I’ve greatly enjoyed previous books by the author and was looking forward to another treat. The early chapters made me think I was in for a 5 star listen, however as the book progressed I found that there was far too much about baseball the nadir of which was at least an hour of the recording devoted to performance statistics of baseball players of the 1920s. After yet another lengthy, tedious section about baseball, I thereafter fast-forwarded the recording when he started on the topic yet again until the subject changed. I had to do this several times. Why Bill Byrson thought that most of his readers/listeners would be interested in the fine details of baseball games played in the 1920s is beyond me. I found the other topics in the book, that were tied in time to the summer of 1927, interesting, but I was disappointed by the book. I also felt that it lacked the wry humour that enlivens his other books.

The author’s narration is competent with out being memorable, but the periods of boredom may have given me a jaundiced view.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • 07-07-14

A fancinating examination of one summer in America

What did you like most about One Summer?

Bryson's ability to turn up the most unusual facts and stories and combine them into a portrait of a nation. It gives a detailed snapshot of the landscape, the people their lives and the changes their society was undergoing. Bryso's research has allowed him to deflty draws them into a collection of threads that come together into a vivid sense of what America was in 1927.

What other book might you compare One Summer to, and why?

This is similar to Bryson's other non-fiction books - A Walk in the Woods and a Short History of Nearly Everything in that we are presented with Bryson's amiable wandering through a subject. However this isn't about him as such, it's a reflection of what he was interested in his subject.

What about Bill Bryson’s performance did you like?

The clear animation in his voice - at times you could hear him smiling as he read or shaking his head in disbelief with you. Bryson enjoys a relaxed easy style that eats up the hours and is the perfect accompaniment to a long drive, cooking a meal or doing the washing up.

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

Could you film this? Better to imagine it I think - let it live in your mind's eye.

Any additional comments?

The only reason I deducted 1 star from the overall score was that in a very few places it probably paid to actually be an American (understanding baseball in detail and the odd reference). However do not let this put you off the wonderfully animated journey the book takes you on. I laughed out loud several times while listening - even when commuting on the train.<br/><br/>I recommend it wholeheartedly.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • P. Tate
  • 02-03-14

Bill Bryson makes prohibition America interesting

Would you listen to One Summer again? Why?

Yes. This is a cornucopia of loosely connected facts most unfamiliar to an English audience. At last baseball is interesting, the aviation air races understandable and prohibition America now seen in a context where it (almost) makes sense. It was all fascinating.

Which character – as performed by Bill Bryson – was your favourite?

Babe Ruth

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

Prohibition America as it really was.

Any additional comments?

It took a minute or two to tune into Bill's voice but his reading was wonderful.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike
  • 01-29-14

Baseball and biplanes

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Not one of Bill's best and if you don't have any interest in baseball or early aviation (which I don't) then it's a bit of a slog. For those that do, good luck.

What will your next listen be?

Back to a thriller, something with a bit of pace hopefully

Would you be willing to try another one of Bill Bryson’s performances?

Perhaps on a better book

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from One Summer?

Heavily edit the baseball tales especially all the scores which while no doubt impressive if you aren't into that, and for the casual listenner, it was painful.

Any additional comments?

No

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • S.E.
  • 10-23-13

Professionals please!

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Bill Bryson is a very fine author......he is not a professional narrator. I found his voice to be thin and without the required authority and expression of a trained actor or experienced reader. A very good book lacking a very good narrator!

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. Downey
  • 10-20-13

Bill Bryson a joy as always!

Great to hear Bill Bryson read his own work, the content as always with him teaches you things you didn't know about events or places you thought you knew. Has made a drive to Nuremberg from the UK a pleasure, looking forward to the second half on the return leg!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Eric Rothschild
  • 04-17-16

Interesting & informative

The Summer of 1927 is really enjoyable with many interesting and informative details about the main players of that era

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • steven
  • 03-02-14

Hold on to your seats for one heck of a ride...

Bryson has selected a period of about six months (April to September) in one year (1927) when the most remarkable events and people in the USA intersected. He is a master story teller and traces the history and personalities of his “actors” without ever reverting to a catalogue of dates or achievements.

It was one heck of a year: Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, Herbert Hoover, Al Capone, Talking pictures, prohibition, Saco and Vanzetti, Mount Rushmore and a handful or murderers all had their moment in the sun – and this is not a complete list.
It was a perfect moment in time - after the war and before the depression. It was an instant when the height of 1920s excess clashed with the depths of conservative USA reaction. All in all, a remarkable year.

Bryson revels in this type of book – he dredges up little-known facts and sketches his characters as larger-than-life figures (or not). The “story” never lags and his sense of hyperbole keeps the reader riveted. How about this as a sample of the irrelevant but interesting snippets which litter to book: The morning after Lindbergh’s triumphant landing in Paris the authorities collected over a ton of lost property at the airfield (following the frenzied reception by the French). There are many more. Some of the actions, decisions and statements are almost inconceivable. The fact, for example, that Al Capone paid wages of almost $700,000 every week – to crooked cops in Chicago.

I guess there were other summers which held as many significant occurrences (probably very few) but I wonder if it is an accident that exactly 40 years later the summer of love would again yield a treasure trove of events and personalities. I’m hoping Bryson is busy on this book already: 1967 Another Summer.

I really wish publishers would stop using authors to read books. I have said this so often. Bill is a great writer and he is one of my favourites. His diction is poor and his reading style is rushed and unprofessional. PLEASE USE ACTORS to read and writers to write.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Cainsy
  • 05-17-15

A Summer more or less

Bryson is one of my writing heroes and he has delivered another masterwork in One Summer: America 1927. However, whereas his earlier travel books had the panorama of nations of his personal experience and his later books dealt with the realms of science, language and social history, this book is about the pivotal summer of 1927 in the United States.

Primarily focusing on the race between the various teams competing for the Orteig Prize, the challenge to fly non-stop from New York to Paris and in particular Charles Lindbergh’s accomplishment, and subsequent rise to fame when he won the prize. Bryson also focuses on Babe Ruth’s record baseball season, the machinations of the Ford motor company’s replacement of the Model T, the impact of the Mississippi Flood and the associated rise of Herbert Hoover, later President Hoover. The book also includes a fair dose of the intricacies of the Roaring Twenties as a backdrop.

The stories are told in Bryson’s characteristic humorous style full of the ironies of life and capricious turns of fate that beset so many of his subjects. It is also packed with many facts and statistics which while being fascinating can sometimes lapse into the monotony of a reference book. Occasionally he does drop the ball in the areas that aren’t central to his own interests, he seems to struggle with popular culture; incorrectly referring to Mickey Mouse’s previous name as Oswald for example. But that is nit-picking Bryson’s delivers a book in a way that a skilled sportsman makes his game look effortless.

Bill Bryson’s delivery is gentle and clear but, as he references his own voice in his earlier book; The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, he speaks in a low voice. Sometimes this lacks the range to add proper characterisation to the different people within the book. Again this isn’t a critical deficiency but doesn’t lend itself to extended listening sessions.
Overall this is an interesting and informative book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • MR NICHOLAS J EVEN
  • 12-28-14

Really enjoyed America 1927

Thoroughly enjoyed the clarity, the content, and the subject matter. Especially enjoyed that the author narrated.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Kelly
  • 03-29-15

certainly recommend

This was such a great book to listen to. informative, interesting and really well read. excellent choice

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Katherine Neville
  • 02-11-15

Great book

Bill Bryson never disappoints. A fascinating insight into a time in history I previously knew little about. I enjoyed Bill's narration also.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David M.
  • 08-22-17

not his best

Personally I think Bill should stick to writing.. the story is very interesting but lacks the flair in the telling that I associate with other readers

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  • Clio
  • 11-30-16

Super Summer

So many interesting facts about life in USA in the 1920's. Bryson reads with a calm and fluid manner that really makes the book a joy to listen to. Another Bill Bryson classic. Good stuff.

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  • Thomas
  • 09-13-16

Great read!

Wonderful to have Bill narrating.

Covers such a diverse range of topics.

Really gives a great perspective of the US and the world at that time.

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  • Jacob
  • 08-11-16

exciting until the last seconds

1927 is beschreven vanuit een USA perspective, Bill is een master vertellen. 1927 is reveviewed from an American perspective. Bill is a master in storytelling.

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  • christine
  • 04-22-16

great listening

listened over weeks. fascinating story with intriging links. amazing that so much happened in one summer. can we have another summer's tale

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  • P
  • 01-30-15

Great for baseball addicts

Normally love books by Bill Bryson. Though there was a lot of interesting stuff in the book he tends to get bogged down in too much detail. In this book too much Baseball. Scores averages and percentages are of little interest to those outside USA.
Still there was a lot of interesting snippets to keep me listening

1 of 3 people found this review helpful