One Summer : America 1927 by Bill Bryson

One Summer by Bill BrysonCandice: Months ago, Phil wrote a post about bringing a book that was too thick to read on his trip. That book was ‘One summer: America 1927’ by Bill Bryson. I subsequently bought it for my holiday in June, forgetting that he’d already got it (though mine was paper back).

I’ve finally just finished it, but that has nothing to do with a) the quality of the read or b) the thickness of the book. I really enjoyed it but it was so thick it took me ages to read over lots of nights before bed.

So what is it about ? In 1927 lots of things happened. The main thing was Charles Lindbergh being the first man to fly across the Atlantic. Then there was Babe Ruth’s home run record, some quite bizarre murders and convictions which mean a trip to the ‘old sparky’, prohibition, Al Capone etc etc. I can see why he picked this era, there was a lot going on.

In its self it doesn’t sound that interesting. I’m not really a historian and American history just makes me laugh as it’s so short. One of the things that was commissioned in 1927 was Mount Rushmore. Now I though that was really old, ie it was done in the 1700’s, not the 1920’s. If it was the UK, it would have been. But what do I expect? I fight my way through lots of Americans every day as they are wetting themselves over William Shakespeare.

But the way it is written is in the usual Bryson style, with a wry smile to what is going on. For example; at that time everyone wanted to crack the crossing on the Atlantic by air. So many people died in the process it borders on lemming mentality. But Bill just lists them all as another one who disappears after giving his wife a goodbye peck and saying don’t wait up and is then never to be seen again. It’s so everyday that it almost funny but actually it shows just how hard it was and how it took all these souls to make air travel as easy as it is today.

The same can be said for many other things in the book where companies rose and died in a short period of time, mainly due to their mad pursuit of one goal or another. But their failure led to a new car design or TV being created.

I loved the book, it was really interesting, informative but also fun. I now know a lot about one period in America’s history, but actually I know a lot more about how some things came about, and it’s something we have to thank them for. Just don’t ask Logie Baird who really invented T V.

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