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One Summer: America, 1927 Hardcover – October 1, 2013
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Bryson's thesis is simple - America in the summer of 1927 may not have realized it, but it was taking its first steps as a world leader - in economics, in the arts, in sports, and in technology. Some of these developments were good, while others were reprehensible. Bryson manages to find either the humanity or the hilarity in each development - sometimes finding both.
Much of the book revolves around Charles Lindbergh's unimaginable feat of crossing the Atlantic in a plane. Today we don't think about Lindbergh much, but this event galvanized the world as no other event had previously done. Bryson writes at length about the other efforts to accomplish the same or similar feats and how many good men (and the occasional good woman) of several different countries died in the attempt. Bryson also focuses on how Lindbergh coped with being the most famous and adored person alive . . . for a time (until his pro-eugenics/Nazi sympathies became public . . . sympathies that Bryson extensively observes were shared by several "leading" intellects of the day). Lindbergh remains the heart of this dizzying book.
But by no means is Lindbergh the sole focus. Lindbergh's feat had tremendous economic consequences as it sparked the American aviation industry to unparalleled heights. Still, this was the summer of Henry Ford, who stopped work on the Model T in favor of the new Model A.Read more ›
Bill picked out a fantastic year, 1927, a year when America was really getting to be the nation we know and love. We get to read about The Babe, Silent Cal, Lucky Lindy, Al Capone, and even "Hooburt Heever". We find out why a "Ponzi Scheme" is called that- and much, much more.
As the author says "An extraordinary number of other important things happened that summer- the dedication of Mt Rushmore, the filming of the first talking picture, the great Mississippi flood, the execution of the anarchists Sacco & Vanzetti, Calvin Coolidge's surprising decision not to run for re-election, and a whole lot more. You could make a good case, and I hope I have, that is was the most eventful summer in American history". You have Bill, you have.
Again, the author does his usual of presenting history and hard facts in a entertaining and fun manner. He brings history alive.
One thing I've always enjoyed about certain writers such as Dumas and Dickens is the cliff hanger. I am such a sucker for them and Bill Bryson at the end of every delicious chapter let it be known that whichever character he was describing at the moment, more was coming with snippets like, 'and it was going to get worse,' or, 'little did he know things were about to change.' For some reason, I love cliffhangers. Bill ingeniously has written a book that culminates the events. Many exciting things in 1927 were happening at the same time.
This is an excellent book - riveting from beginning to end. Every time I read a Bill Bryson book I have forgotten just how wonderful he is. I think high school kids would be better off ditching their dry history courses and would learn more from reading this book. The stories would certainly have more of an impact.
One Summer transports the reader to the lively summer of 1927. You'll be amazed by some stories, saddened by others, encouraged-and all the while, entertained. While you are entertained, you learn so much more about familiar people and important but unfamiliar people. This is a must read! I would have read this book in one sitting if I could have. One Summer is hard to put down, but whenever I picked it up, I was thrust back to the summer of 1927. When the end of the book came, it was hard to leave.
=== The Good Stuff ===
* I had never really considered 1927 to be all that special a year, but this book made it seem to be one of the most interesting patches of American History. Bryson does a masterful job of interweaving Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, the stock market, prohibition and a few other topics into a single narrative. In doing so, he points out a number of relationships that I sort of knew, just forgot to think about. For example, I was surprised to realize that Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic before soundtracks were added to pictures.
* The book is full of facts that I had never read before. I never knew that Zane Grey earned more than ten times the amount that F. Scott Fitzgerald ever made from writing, or that Grey led a life that would have shocked most of his fans. The book is full of such facts and observations, and I enjoyed reading them.
* Bryson captures a personal side to many of the people in his book. I had never appreciated how much of a social misfit Charles Lindbergh really was, and can only imagine the pain that years of being a A-list celebrity caused him. It seemed like the man couldn't brush his teeth without a parade and speeches. Similarly, it was amazing political scandals, Hollywood gossip and shady business dealings are as common in the 1920's as they are today.
* The book takes a broad view of topics, and manages to touch on just about everything that seemed important in either the 1920's or today.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bryson at his best! I have enjoyed most of his work and found this book a real pleasure. Once again Mr. Bryson has woven scads of information into a flowing, pleasant read. Read morePublished 14 hours ago by Downeast Deedee
Yet another entertaining and very educational book by Bill Bryson. As usual Bill uncovers all manner of unusual facts to enliven his subject. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Ian Webber
Bryson is a great story-teller. This is an enjoyable read, from start to finish.Published 3 days ago by A. B. Clem
great book, great writer, wonderful walk back in time for me and so much info I had no idea was going onPublished 4 days ago by gardengirl
This is the story of my time! Great to be reminded of my time while growing up. Brought back so much that I had just forgotten.Published 5 days ago by lee schermerhorn,jr
Bryson has great resources of knowledge. His style of writing makes his subject come vividly alive.Published 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
Hearing daily about all the contentious, bizarre, frightening, bewildering events confronting us at a rapid-fire pace today, it is almost a relief to read "One Summer: America,... Read morePublished 8 days ago by Delores Manburg