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John's October 2013 pick
With a cast of characters still famous – Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth – to the now obscure like Shipwreck Kelly and Philo T. Farnsworth, Bill Bryson does a wonderful job of portraying America in the summer of 1927. Here we have the beginnings of things we now take for granted, like transatlantic flight, talking movies, national radio broadcasts-even the culture of celebrity we live with today. Bryson tells it all in his usual wry manner, and creates a fascinating narrative. This is popular history at its best – one to try even if you don’t normally like history.
"Bryson writes in a style as effervescent as the time itself... A wonderful romp."—The New York Times"...A skillful lesson on the dynamics and personalities that shaped today's America and on how far the country has evolved from a gaudy era fondly but imperfectly recalled."—Wall Street Journal"There are two kinds of readers: those who love Bill Bryson and those who haven't met him yet... Colorful, rollicking and sweet, this is Bryson being Bryson. Which is to say: marvelous."—People"A glorious look at one summer in America...Bryson offers delicious detail and breathtaking suspense about events whose outcomes are already known."—Booklist, Starred Review"This splendid book, written in the breezy and humorous style that has come to be Bryson's trademark, is sure to delight readers steeped in the history of the period as well as those looking to acquaint themselves with it for the first time."—The Associated Press“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… [He] is a master of the sidelong, a man who can turn obscurity into hilarity with seemingly effortless charm—and One Summer is an entertaining addition to a body of work that is at its best when it celebrates the unexpected and the obscure… This is a jolly jalopy ride of a book; Bryson runs down the byways of American history and finds diversion in every roadside stop.”—Financial Times"...Bryson himself is captivated by the events of summer, 1927. And why not? They included Charles Lindbergh's solo flight over the Atlantic, Sacco and Vanzetti's execution, Gutzon Borglum's start on the sculpting of Mt. Rushmore, the Dempsey-Carpentier fight, and Babe Ruth's 60 home runs—all of which Bryson covers in characteristically sparkling prose."—Publishers Weekly"As a historian, Bryson is the antithesis of stuffy. He's a storyteller, pure and simple, and One Summer is a collection of a great many tales about people and events, centered on (but not limited to) a single season in a single year... Bryson could have written a book just as interesting about the summer of 1949 or 1913. That's because his subject isn't really a year. It's human nature in all its odd and amazing array."—Chicago Tribune"The book's strength is in showing the overlap of significant events and the interaction of personalities."—Library Journal"What comes across clearest in Bryson’s lucid, lighthearted narrative is the pure energy and crazed optimism of the era. Sure, the rollicking party would end, but it was fun while it lasted—as is Bryson’s One Summer.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune"...One Summer wins you over by the sheer weigh tof its encyclopedic enthusiasms."—The Telegraph"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." —Liz Smith, The Huffington Post"Highly recommend One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson—interesting, entertaining visit to an incredible year."—John McCain
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