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One Summer: America, 1927 Paperback – June 3, 2014
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“Rollicking, immensely readable. . . . [Bryson’s] subject isn't really a year. It’s human nature in all its odd and amazing array.” —Chicago Tribune
“A wonderful romp . . . . Fascinating. . . . Written in a style as effervescent as the time itself.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Addictively readable.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Entertaining. . . . Splendid. . . . Sure to delight.” —Newsday
“Marvelous.” —The Huffington Post
“Bill Bryson recounts a remarkable period in America’s passage. . . . [One Summer] captures that fabulous summer—indeed, the entire era—in tone and timbre.” —The Boston Globe
“A lively account of 1927’s events and its cast of characters, both well known and long forgotten. . . . [Bryson] has a keen eye for amusing and arresting tidbits of information.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“The best kind of general-interest book: fun, interesting, and something to learn on every page.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Breezily written, conversational and humorous. . . . [Bryson is] a gifted raconteur.” —The Guardian (London)
“Bryson is a marvelous historian, not only exhaustively accurate, but highly entertaining. If you avoid textbook histories because they seem too dry, pick up One Summer, or any other of Mr. Bryson’s books. They are intelligent delights.” —The Huffington Post
“An entertaining tour through a year of Jazz Age scandal and baseball heroics. . . . Bryson will set you right in this canter through one summer of one year that—once you’ve turned the final page—will seem more critical to American history than you might have reckoned before.” —Financial Times
“One Summer covers an enormous cast of characters that are deeply researched and rendered to entertain. . . . [Bryson] finds the strange trivia and surprising little coincidences that make history fun, and his breezy style and running commentary make for an enjoyable read.” —The Miami Herald
“Exuberant. . . . [Bryson] propels his story forward with enviable skill and inexhaustible verve.” —The Times Literary Supplement (London)
“Per usual, Bryson writes prose as lucid as a pane of glass. . . . A fun walk through the summer of 1927, with all its zaniness.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Has history ever been so enjoyable? . . . Bill Bryson is a true master of popular narrative. . . . With this book, he proves once again that he is able to juggle any number of different balls . . . and create spellbinding patterns while never letting a single one drop. He is wonderfully adept at the nutshell portrait: indeed, he treats the nutshell like a ballroom, conveying a vast amount in a tiny number of words.” —Daily Mail
About the Author
- Publisher : Anchor; Reprint edition (June 3, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 544 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0767919416
- ISBN-13 : 978-0767919418
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #23,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The author does a wonderful job explaining the nineteen-twenties and the events that occurred during that notable summer. Besides Lindbergh becoming a national hero and enduring celebrity worship almost beyond comprehension, Mr. Bryson covers such momentous things as the aging Babe Ruth’s home run pursuit, the Mississippi flood of 1927, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, the novelty of radio, the birth of television, Prohibition, how the Federal Reserve helped set into play the coming Great Depression, the New York Yankees’ exceptional season, Henry Ford, the Jack Dempsey/Gene Tunney boxing match, the execution of anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, the building of Mount Rushmore, the introduction of talking movies, Ponzi schemes, the Ku Klux Klan, train travel, Al Capone and corrupt Chicago, successful authors, racism, anti-Semitism, censorship, and eugenics. He also gives colorful backstories about the events and people covered that allows the reader to appreciate the importance of the situations. The author covers a lot of ground in the 456 pages (paperback edition.) ‘One Summer’ also highlights individuals who were all the rage in the early part of the twentieth century but have faded into obscurity. Fame sure is fickle. There are 16 pages of black-and-white photographs.
It’s always a joy reading Mr. Bryson’s work. Even gloomy topics such as eugenics are written with a certain amount of sarcastic playfulness. My guess is enough time has passed that we are not as sensitive to the author’s presentation about events way back in 1927 compared to if he tried writing in the same manner about something more recent such as 9/11 attacks. I intentionally waited to read ‘One Summer’ during the mentioned season. It added another layer of texture to the book. It was easy to appreciate Mr. Bryson’s descriptions of how the people endured the terrible heatwaves when I was reading during humid ninety-degree weather. Technology has certainly advanced quite a bit since 1927. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go kiss my air conditioner.
America had been suffered from abnormal weather in that summer. It rained steadily across much of the country, sometimes in volumes not before seen. Heat wave of summer was under way. The Great Migration, blacks’ moving out from the South, began soon after the Mississippi flood, which lead to keeping out immigrant movements. Eugenics was a minion theory in that era. Bryson notes the fact sterilization laws still remain on the books in twenty states today. Extraordinary weather forced the federal government to accept that certain matters are too big for states to handle alone. The birth of Big Government in America. The canyon like streets and spiky skyline was largely a 1920s phenomena. Holland Tunnel was opened in 1927. A Mount Rushmore project was begun on. Constructing Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam started. It was the same summer four men, from America, England, Germany, and French, gathered at the Long Island to discuss abolishing the gold standard. The result connected to the Great Depression. Calvin Coolidge presided over a booming economy and did nothing at all to get in the way of it.
The 1920s was a great time for reading. Reading remained as a principal method for most people to fill idle time. It coincide precisely with the birth of tabloid papers and huge popularity of book clubs. Plausibility was not something that audiences needed for in the 1920s. An immense pulp fictions were printed out in this era. Bryson picks up the Sash Weight Murder Case to illustrate this frenzy. It would be overtaken soon by the passive distraction of radio. Lindbergh’s return in triumph was in many ways the day that radio came of age. American spent one-third of all the money for furniture on radios. The nation’s joy and obsession was baseball at that time. Baseball dominated and saturated American life culturally, emotionally. It was that summer Yankees won the American League championship with a league record, and Babe Ruth banged out 60 home runs. Boxing was also a 1920s phenomenon. Jack Dempsey - Gene Tunny Fight were held at the summer’s end of that year. Americans were excited about every on-the-spot broadcast. Many people came to find the automobile an essential part of life. One American in six owned a car by the late 1920s. It was getting close to a rate of one per family. And it was in the summer of 1927 that Henry Ford embarked on the most ambitious, and ultimately most foolish venture, the greatest rubber-producing estate, Fordlandia.
The 1920s are dubbed as the Jazz Age, the Roaring Twenties, and the Era of Wonderful Nonsense. Musical performances were prospered. Big theaters had been constructed. It was a flourishing time for America, various cultural icons for American life style were created and introduced. American century began to blossom with full of life and energy. America’s winning the World War I exhibited it’s existence to the world. In 1927, Americans were not popular in Europe and not popular at all in France. The most striking things to a foreign visitor, arriving in America for the first time in 1927, was how staggeringly well-off it was. No other country they knew had ever been this affluence, and it seemed getting wealthier daily at a dizzily pace for them. It was the time TV started test broadcasting. Talkies began to take place of Silent Movies. Talking pictures were going to change the entertainment world thoroughly. It not only stole audiences from live theaters but also, and even worse, reaped talent. Who couldn’t speak English were kicked out from the industry. Through talkies America began to export American thoughts, attitudes, humor and sensibilities, peaceably, almost unnoticed. America had just taken over the world.
It was a time of Prohibition. It was a time of despair for people of a conservative temperament. The 1920s were also an Age of Loathing. More people disliked more other people from more directions and for less reason. There were subversive activities. Foreign workers who couldn’t get job were thought to be anarchy. It was not a good time to be either a radical or an alien in America, and unquestionably dangerous to be both. Bryson takes up the Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti case to explain the atmosphere in this era. The European economies were uniformly wrecked while America’s was booming. America was blamed for it’s indifference to other countries suffering economic difficulties. Rejecting foreign workers led to bringing out negative feeling from other countries. Before the summer ended, millions of French would hate America, and it would actually be unsafe to be an American on French street.
What did Lindberg’s success mean to American people. America has fallen behind from the rest of the world in every important area of technology in the 1920s. Lindbergh’s flight brought the world a moment of sublime, spontaneous, unifying joy on a scale never seen before for some unknowable reason. There would have been the gratifying novelty of coming first at something. America was suddenly dominant in nearly every field. In popular culture, finance and banking, military power, invention and technology, these center of gravity for the planet was moving from Europe to America. Charles Lindbergh’s flight somehow became the culminating expression of this. It is interesting to note Bryson counts as advantage for American fliers over European competitors is their using aviation fuel from California. It burned more cleanly and gave better mileage. It harbingers the coming oil century. It is impossible to imagine what was it about Charles Lindbergh and his 1927 flight to Paris that so transfixed the world in that summer. Bryson seems to have no interest about psychological analysis of heroes. He objectively piles up the facts from datas still remained. We are enthralled many times by accidental outcome resultant from connection between people and or tossed about by the tide. The greatest hero of the twentieth century was infinitely more of an enigma and considerably less of a hero than anyone had ever supposed. Alexis Carrel, a famous doctor at that time, provided Lindbergh with an enduring friendship and years of bad advice. Lindberg was invited to the Olympics in Berlin as a guest of the Nazis. He and his wife became unapologetic admirers of Adolf Hitler. People’s enthusiasm to Lindberg burnt out quickly and never returned. 1927 was substantially the first year of Showa in Japan. Showa actually started from the late December of the previous year. Ryuunosuke Akutagawa, a novelist, suicided from dimly obscured uneasiness in this year. It was an era militarism crept upon Japanese from the behind unnoticeably.
Top reviews from other countries
Murders, baseball, inventions, banking, literature, movies, aviation and more feature in Bryson's sprawling take on the summer months of 1927 in America, Charles Lindberg's triumph in flying solo across the Atlantic is the central event around which all others are focused. And, while Lindberg's achievement is celebrated, he became frustrated at becoming public property and dropped out of favour with the Americans later when he expressed some highly controversial views related to race. Indeed another unpleasant undercurrent in the book is the story of America embracing eugenics during the twenties, which at some stage actually achieved some degree of political acceptance at a political level. Bryson's level of interest and enthusiasm is never in doubt, but the book outstays its welcome by simply running on way too long,
There's plenty to enjoy and the main elements which drew me in was the aviation race and groundbreaking tale of Charles Lindbergh, Ford's catastrophic foreign expansion, the sheer lunacy of some of the characters of the time and Babe Ruth's Yankees. Certainly a real page turner!
We are all in to aviation so I know that the extra background to Lindberg and the first Atlantic crossings will be of interest, but finding out about quite what a monumental time it was in so many ways really was fascinating.
I'll read it again.
Perspective is brought, complex relationships explained and sentiment enlivened in his hugely readable and highly digestible format.
There was a little too much baseball for someone like me who doesn’t get it and has no idea what the stats he cited meant – the historical significance of the game’s developments is, however, without doubt – and I learned things about Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh that make some of their achievements a little less palatable.
In short (and this is a hefty tome), the author manages to interweave all the salient strands of American life into a very enjoyable read, with great insight and much more entertainment than history books normally convey.