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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, October 2013 - When I'm in the mood for nonfiction, Bill Bryson's brand of witty, creative narrative is exactly what I look for, which is why One Summer: America, 1927; is on my list for October. In this book, Bryson takes us on an in-depth journey through a particularly eventful five months in American history: May - September, 1927. Not all newsworthy stories make it to the front page, but Bryson ensures the obscure, peculiar, and downright fascinating details of this summer are not forgotten, seamlessly weaving them into the events of the big headlines - Charles Lindbergh's solo flight, Babe Ruth's home run streak, and Al Capone's rise to power, to name a few. Self-narrated, One Summer is sure to be must-listen for Bryson fans, nonfiction listeners, and anyone who found themselves obsessing over the details in history class. —Sam, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Finalist, History, 2014

One of the most admired nonfiction writers of our time retells the story of one truly fabulous year in the life of his native country - a fascinating and gripping narrative featuring such outsized American heroes as Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, and yes Herbert Hoover, and a gallery of criminals (Al Capone), eccentrics (Shipwreck Kelly), and close-mouthed politicians (Calvin Coolidge). It was the year Americans attempted and accomplished outsized things and came of age in a big, brawling manner. What a country. What a summer. And what a writer to bring it all so vividly alive for us in this certain best-seller.

©2013 Bill Bryson (P)2013 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Bryson always entertaining

What made the experience of listening to One Summer the most enjoyable?

Bryson is a great researcher and a brilliant writer. He can make anything entertaining. I've read most of his books. Still in this book, I did find myself skipping some sections of people I didn't find all that interesting when he was writing about aviation. Other sections great! Loved the baseball and boxing details. I kept saying to my husband, "did you know that . . . "

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

As much as l like Bryson as a writer, I would have enjoyed a professional performance of this book. I almost quit listening, but then adjusted to Bryson voice and style and finished it. I'm glad I did.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great story - too bad about the narration.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I really enjoyed the material and the writing. Bryson has a rare talent for weaving facts into an absorbing story, he just shouldn't narrate it out loud. As interested as I was in the what was being said, I was constantly distracted by Bryson's odd hybrid accent and annoying pacing. Worth listening to, but would have been much better with a professional reader at the mic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I could listen to Bill Bryson all day. And I did.

This isn't one of Bryson's best, but even when he's not on his A-game he's still entertaining.

I learned a lot from this book, and was drawn in by Bryson's masterful storytelling. He got me to care about all sorts of things that I really wouldn't have ever given a thought to. That is his gift.

if you're a Bryson fan, go for it. This book is fun.

If you've never given Bryson a try, don't start here... try Lost Continent, A Brief History of Nearly Everything or A Walk in the Woods.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Terrible reading job

What disappointed you about One Summer?

The narration.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The reading is so bad, so tin-eared, I was feeling sorry for the author, until I discovered that the reader was actually the author himself. He is always stressing the wrong word. It sounds as if he hadn't read the book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan
  • Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 12-10-13

Speaking Bad

What did you like best about One Summer? What did you like least?

I loved the idea of zeroing in on a particular time period. I've read some other Bill Bryson and liked it ok. I haven't seen the book which I hope to get from the library. I can't believe it was written as badly as it was spoken.

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

It was amazing to think that back in those days tens of thousands of people would come out for a celebration of a "hero". I also liked the descriptions of Fordlandia!

How could the performance have been better?

A better reader would have done wonders for the book.

Did One Summer inspire you to do anything?

Yes. It inspired me to look up Sacco and Vanzetti and perhaps someday(way down the list) to delve into Hoover(Herbert and J.Edgar).

Any additional comments?

Bill Bryson should be informed that he is not a reader!!<br/><br/>

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Bryson could make a phone book interesting

Is there nothing that Bill Bryson can't take and make fascinating? Just one summer in America and I feel like I was there.

I've listened to every Bryson book out there and this one is among the top.

Bryson entertains and teaches at the same time. From the most minutia details to broad strokes, he covers everything.

Also, he reads his books with a warm engaging voice. I feel like a partner curled up next to him as he reads. Very intimate.

If this is your first Bryson book, listen to it, and then get all the others.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Still Bryson, but not his best

Would you try another book from Bill Bryson and/or Bill Bryson?

One of my favorite authors but not one of my favorite's by him. Would definitely recommend A Short History of Nearly Everything and Neither Here Nor There.

What aspect of Bill Bryson’s performance would you have changed?

No one should narrate Bryson except Bryson. He is always superbly himself:)

Any additional comments?

This was, as always, entertaining and informative. Several other books by Bill Bryson have set the bar and this one didn't quite measure up.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Bryson is a great writer, but . . .

This is a very good book. Bryson weaves together the worlds of politics, aviation, sports, entertainment, crime, invention, and business to give a snapshot view of the United States in 1927.. It works very well and is a pleasure to read. However, Bryson should stick to writing. I had just listened to several books read by actors, and there is a big difference between a professional voice and an amateur. With Bryson, the listener is distracted by his uneven accent -- where is he from, California? with a touch of Brit? Canada? I kept thinking of the characters on Saturday Night Live's skit, "The Californians."And it is just not smooth. The wrong words are emphasized in the narratives and it is really distracting. I finally bought the book and started from the beginning to read it myself. I loved it!

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • William
  • Winston Salem, NC, United States
  • 10-19-13

Outstanding, as usual

I am a huge fan of Bill Bryson's books and read or listen to them over and over. I find it unusual for an author to be a successful reader of his own books, but Bryson is a riot. His flat, matter-of-fact presentation has a way of making the most mundane of subjects hilarious.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeffrent
  • Astoria, NY United States
  • 10-14-13

A Fluffy Delight

This is a zippy pop-history of the summer of 1927 in the United States. Without going into any one subject in great detail, Bryson paints a picture of a nation blissfully ignorant of the coming dark days of the Great Depression.

In broad strokes, Bryson recounts the plans & groundbreaking of Mt. Rushmore; Babe Ruth's historic 1927 season and his friendship/rivalry with Lou Gehrig; the toll of The Great Flood; Herbert Hoover's vast reach; Calvin Coolidge's seeming apathy toward the presidency; the landmark musical Showboat; the invention of television alongside the role of radio and film in American life; and, most importantly (and the only subject on which he goes a little deeper than the basic facts) the remarkable response to Charles Lindbergh's famous flight across the Atlantic.

As a narrator, Bryson's hybrid British-American accent can be a bit grating on American ears—"opulent" is pronounced with a long O, for example. It's a minor quibble but worth considering before spending 17 hours listening to the book.

Overall, I found this to be a fun history that will make you feel less guilty for caring more about Ben Affleck's casting as Batman than impending war in Syria; Americans in 1927 turned a blind eye to the myriad disasters, atrocious crimes, and clear warning signs of an economy on the brink in favor of obsessing about baseball, Lindbergh, boxing, and flagpole-sitting.

Bryson almost gleefully portrays Americans as absurdly guileless people, and there is a touch of melancholy to this—since 1927, we have become a nation that has faced a series of challenges that have left us less innocent. Thinking back from The Great Depression – The Great Recession, the summer of 1927 might have been the last time we were a buoyant country.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful