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Stephen Fry in America: Fifty States and the Man Who Set Out to See Them All Hardcover – November 3, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


“Offers an outsider’s refreshing perspective on the vastness and variety of America. Delightfully funny and informative.” (Library Journal)

“Most entertaining. His writing style proves to be as pleasurable as his presenting.” (The Independent (UK))

“An insightful and fascinating look into what makes this country of contradictions tick. ” (Herald Sun (Australia))

“Informative, charming and witty. A delight from Maine to Hawaii.” (Sunday Tribune (South Africa))

“Covering 50 states in eight months in a black London cab, Fry offers up a delectable slice-of-life of America.” (Financial Mail (South Africa))

From the Back Cover

Britain's best-loved comic genius, Stephen Fry, turns his celebrated wit and insight to unearthing the real America as he travels across the continent in his chariot of Englishness, a black London cab.

Stephen Fry has always loved America. In fact, he came very close to being born here. His fascination for the country and its people sees him embarking on an epic journey across America, visiting each of its fifty states to discover how such a huge diversity of people, cultures, languages, and beliefs creates such a remarkable nation. Stephen starts his journey on the East Coast and zigzags across America, stopping in every state from Maine to Hawaii, talking to each state's hospitable citizens, listening to music, visiting landmarks, viewing small-town life and America's breathtaking landscapes, following wherever his curiosity leads him.

En route he discovers the South Side of Chicago with blues legend Buddy Guy, catches up with Morgan Freeman in Mississippi, strides around with Ted Turner on his Montana ranch, marches with Zulus in Mardi Gras in New Orleans, drums with the Sioux Nation in South Dakota, joins a Georgia family for Thanksgiving, "picks" with bluegrass hillbillies, and finds himself in a Tennessee garden full of dead bodies.

Whether in a club for failed gangsters in Brooklyn, New York (yes, those are real bullet holes), or celebrating Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts (is there anywhere better?), Stephen is welcomed by the people of America—mayors, sheriffs, newspaper editors, park rangers, teachers, and hoboes, bringing to life the oddities and splendors of each locale. A celebration of the magnificent and the eccentric, the beautiful and the strange, Stephen Fry in America is the author's homage to this extraordinary country.


From Sea to Shining Sea
Read a Q&A with Stephen Fry, author of Stephen Fry in America [PDF].

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (March 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061456381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061456381
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #495,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By B Waters on December 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. There are so many books out there with similar themes, but nothing quite like this. The photography is beautiful, but not so "obvious". Most travel books highlight very well-known tourist destinations. But here, Stephen mixes revered landmarks with small businesses and local people. It really gives you a good look at life in these places.

However, I don't really recommend this book as a travel guide of any sort. Stephen was obviously in such a rush to visit every state, that he doesn't really spend a lot of time anywhere. So for travel interests, it doesn't provide enough insight to be of much value. Instead, this is a book for fans of Stephen Fry. This book is full of Stephen's famous wit, charisma, and humor. And because the narrative is split into 50 sections for the states, it makes a great casual read. There's a lot of photography here, so you could finish it in short time, but I preferred taking my time, reading 2-3 states per day over a few weeks. Like I said, Stephen doesn't have a lot of time to focus on any one state, so it doesn't feel so rushed if you take your time with it. I loved every page.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By RealGrrl on January 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In 2008, the quintessential Englishman, Stephen Fry, traveled across the entire United States to experience what each individual state had to offer.
What I liked about this book is that Fry stayed away from popular sites e.g. Times Square, and instead chose to visit more colorful & interesting locales. To a non-American, it would probably seem like the states have their own flavor, but we do have a common ingredient that can be found across the entire nation & Fry usually was confronted with it when he read our state mottos, slogans, & even watched commercials all of which declare the unique attitude & culture of where he was at the moment. To the next state, it seemed to be repeat itself & Fry took it all in stride, seeming to enjoy it rather than ridicule it for all its worth. (I know I would have done it, given the chance.)

I'm only giving the book three stars as I thought each state's section was too short & yes, Fry predicted that Americans would be dissatisfied with their own state's portrayal which I will confirm that for me (as an Okie) that I was a bit disappointed with what he included. But maybe I'm just being cynical, after all he did show Okies as being charitable & enjoying the pastime of rodeo, which isn't a bad depiction in the least. Fry could have easily made a book about how there is more bad than good in the US & it would have been easy to do. It was nice to read a book filled with the more positive elements of our society: hardwork, community, indigenous cultures, & the ability to drive a car on the beach (well, two of them).

Bonuses: All of that trivia & history! Also, the beautiful photography & Fry's British wit & humoUr.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. Badger on December 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an unusual and highly enjoyable travel book. Fry crosses America state by state and visits places that average Americans probably never heard of- very interesting places full of interesting people. Fry doesn't just visit each state, he gets to know some of the people and tries his hand at some of their jobs- coal mining, lobstering, farming, etc., And he avoids the usual locations- his trip to New York State doesn't include Times Square, but up-state deer hunting. He doesn't just visit and encouter people and places, he tells you what he thinks of them. And if you don't already know Stephen Fry, you will find his insights refreshing and always interesting. If you do know Fry, then this book is just what you hoped it would be; I have never read a travel book filled with so many smiles and laughs and ideas. Regarding the 3-star review on this page, the British spelling of many words is close to, but different from, ours. Words like tire and color aren't misspelled, they are just spelled the British way.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Giles Gammage on September 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
I should have known better than to buy a TV series tie-in, but come on, I thought, it's Stephen "A Bit of Fry and Laurie, not to mention some bits of Blackadder" Fry. Surely, it will be worth a chuckle or two.

Alas, as Fry himself has said, "As private parts to the gods are we. They play with us for their sport."

The premise is simple enough: Englishman tours the 50 states, and discovers Americans are not all that bad. The book is structured as a travelogue, recording Stephen's adventures along his journeys. Each state gets its own chapter, preceeded by a list of "Key Facts" such as the State Capital, Motto and/or Neckwear (Arizona: Bolo tie). Very democratic and even-handed, but it does mean that when crammed into the space of 300 pages, each state gets an average of roughly six pages. Well, five, less the Key Facts.

Depth then is somewhat lacking. Each state is reduced to one or two encounters with assorted billionaires, entrepreneurs, hillbillies, indians, stoners, witches and zulus. Delware is passed through without stopping. Stephen gets no further than the state line of Idaho before zipping off to Wyoming. Of course, length is no guarantee of quality, but so much of Stephen's prose is filled with the banal, "I couldn't be happier" (Montana), "I enjoyed myself here as much as I have anywhere" (South Dakota), "I decide that I like the South" (South Carolina).

All this would be less disappointing if it was delivered with a bit more wit. Stephen, however, apparently had other ideas, and plays it straight (badda-bing) for most of the book. Stephen's prose is good, solid, readable stuff, but it rarely shines. There is the odd sally that raises a smile, but for the most part Stephen has decided it is more important to be earnest. Indeed, the book's simplicity of spirit is almost... well... American.

Not a bad book then, simply less than I had hoped for.
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