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on May 15, 2016
I read this book after having just finished visiting Australia for 12 days. I heard about the book from one of our tour guides and only wish that I had know about it in advance. It is a mixture of history text, travelogue, and the author's personal adventures. All of these are held together by his dry humor which abounds throughout. During the course of his travels he manages to find a variety of out of the way and interesting things which he describes in such a way as to make me wish that I had seen them with him. Obviously, he visited a multitude of locations for which I lacked the time but where our paths "crossed" I can only say that his descriptions and impressions mirrored mine so I can safely assume that the locations which we did not duplicate are equally accurately presented. Whether you have visited Australia, are planning to in the near future, or never expect to make it 'Down Under" this book is an easy read that is, truly, difficult to put down. I've posted a few pictures of my experience. The first is Ayer's Rock (Uhura) in the outback. The second is an Australian sunset. The third is a salt water croc on a river near Durbin.
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on November 29, 2014
My third Bill Bryson book. After "One Summer," I promoted Bryson to the role of "Whatever this guy writes, I'll read." Although "One Summer" focused on 1927, it was really a broad view of America at that time. "Sunburned" is about Australia, but in a very different way. Bryson tells us about places and experiences he had in a sweeping jaunt through the regions of Australia, from the populated east coast, to the barren interior, to the beautiful west coast. He is witty, open, and wholeheartedly sold on Australia - the people and the land. I noticed that Aussies who've reviewed the book give it very high marks, which is a good sign.

Bryson has a wonderful sense of humor. In some cases, I think he embellishes the truth, i.e., he takes an experience which deals in facts, but then adds quirks that will make the scene seem even more bizarre, or amusing, or frustrating than it probably was. I know this because I sometimes resort to the same ploy. I never waver from the truth, of course, but just make it sound a little more interesting and funky. One aspect that surprised me was that occasionally Bryson throws in a smutty remark. Nothing wrong with that, except it didn't quite fit in with the general tone.

Although Bryson is in love with Australia, he doesn't hesitate to criticize when he feels criticism is due. He can't stand Canberra, for example, although that's balanced by his love of Perth. His take on the outback is unexpected. While he faces certain "difficult' situations in that area, he is constantly amazed at the vastness, intrigued by the uniqueness, and enthusiastic about the "amenities" (no matter how basic they might be.)

This book is not a travel guide. You won't find a list of hotels or restaurants, but you will come away with a real sense of what Australia has to offer. And what it has to offer are experiences you will not find any place else on earth. Eat your heart out, Rick Steves. (4-1/2 stars).
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on March 3, 2015
I generally do not read much non-fiction, but I make an exception for Bill Bryson. I enjoyed this book so much that when I reached the end, I wanted to go back and start over! I've read other Bill Bryson books (A Walk in the Woods, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid) and while both are good ((Walk is better), I think In A Sunburned Country is my favorite. It is clear on every page that Bryson finds Australia and its people both fascinating, admirable, and immensely likeable and makes this contagious to the reader. Bryson strives to give readers a coherent overall portrait of a country that is not easy to describe due to sheer size and vast distances and I think he does a great job! I felt like I was a tourist having a guided tour of Australia with a good-natured friend who has an insatiable curiosity about the people and history of each place visited along with a born storyteller's ability to make it interesting and fun. Part travelogue, with a smattering of history, anthropology, geology, botany and biology thrown in, Almost like being there, but without the heat or the beer. I highly recommend it if you enjoy learning something new while you read for pleasure.
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on May 23, 2017
As usual, BB writes to entertain. Along the way, however, his incredible knowledge of actual facts get thrown in gratis. Along the way, there are innumerable eccentric characters, detailed descriptions of buildings, monuments, and vast expanses, even flora and fauna. He has a knack for describing his meals so vividly that you alternately enjoy them with him, or need to skip them when he does. I'll never get to Australia, but thanks to BB, I feel like I've come awfully close.
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on April 1, 2017
I have friends in Australia and this book was recommended as a good overall intro to the country, which I plan to visit for an extended time in the near future. I originally listened to it on tape, where it was read by the author and was very entertaining, but I bought the actual book both to share it with others and to keep for future reference. Bill Bryson speaks fondly of this continent and country, while pointing out some of the really strange and unique aspects of it with warmth and humor.
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on May 18, 2017
The writer is funny but some accounts seem too exagerated to be real. He goes solo a lot and 70% of a particular chapter is history and observations made by reading books written by other people about the place he is in now. It is not very insightful on culture. The history is covered very well but then it is hardly a travelogue if you only write about the past. The part about the outback is good but his visit there is tame and doest give a real taste of the outback.

Also there are couple comments in here where he is trying to be funny but sounds racist and ignorant. He seems to think that when you fly so far from the US you would be in an uncivilized 3rd world country but he is relieved to find he is among "people who look like you and me" and not among "swarthy men wearing robes" in a place "where you can catch diseases by touching anything". I don't expect such narrowmindedness from someone who claims to have traveled a lot.
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on April 26, 2017
I think Bill Bryson is an incredibly good writer whose humor extends to poking as much fun at himself as he does at others. He manages to drop some worthwhile and interesting facts into the stories of the people and places he visits on this travels, in this case, Australia.
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on December 17, 2016
I have read several of his books. Some border on the light and silly. Some do not. This is a truly valuable historical, cultural, political, even geological study of his subject. I read it quite some time ago. I recently bought two copies from Amazon, which is why I have been nagged to write this "product review," to give to others I had been talking to about some of the history and especially the politics, sometimes exceedingly distressing, which it delves into. If you do get and read this book you will forever have etched into your brain its extended description of the unique and often deadly flora and fauna of this amazing piece of real estate.
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on June 26, 2016
The author, Bill Bryson, undertook a long journey across Australia covering most of the notable seacoast cities and a number of the inland ones. He describes with sometimes sarcastic wit the historical characters and facts of the founding of the country as well as the people and sites he meets on the way. This is not an page turning book because it is so full of details but one that will certainly give you an understanding of this vast (much unexplored still) continent. To sum up the book I quote from the last chapter. "But that is of course the thing about Australia - that there is such a lot to find in it, but such a lot of it to find it in. You could never see the half of it." I have some minor criticisms of the book. 1. The maps are only in the front and are way too small. I would rather have a large map at each section with a arrow showing where the town/city or feature is located. Having them in front is confusing. 2. The information on the aborigines is scant at best. About 2/3 of the way through the book he does spend a few paragraphs on the condition of the current tribesman and earlier he does recount the treatment of them. I wanted more information - number of tribes and languages, customs, etc. 3. He repeats information on the dangers of the country but little on the mammals. He does mention the flora and its devastation, but little of the unique birds and mammals. Unless I missed it, he does not even mention the various types of kangaroos. On the other hand he does manage to pack at lot of historical facts into the book with boring the reader. He also has a blunt appraisal of how much Americans know about this country (or Europeans as well). However, I would say that pretty much of the world does not know much about the country. That is why I read this book. It is a slow read for sure, but one I would recommend.
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on May 20, 2016
I planned to read this book before my trip to Australia. However, I read it after, which I am glad I did. Having been in many of the places described, I found myself laughing out loud as Mr. Bryson traversed Australia. His descriptions of people and places as well as historical information and his own brand of humor made this an enjoyable read. I do think I appreciated the book more since I could relate to some of his experiences: the hours of driving in the Outback with nothing to see but red land and scrub bushes, the oppressive humidity in the tropics, the beauty all around him. I don't know if his humor would have been relative before I made my journey as I had points of reference. My advice to travelers, go to Australia and then read the book!
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