Review of “One Summer: America, 1927” by Bill Bryson

This book is just loads of fun. Is it possible that this much of significance takes place every year in history? Whatever the answer, 1927 was a heck of a year, and Bill Bryson knows how to bring it to life.

Book_Review_One_Summer-09467

Proceeding month by month through the year, he tells great anecdotes, providing plenty of background for each person or event profiled so you understand the significance of what happened.

1927 was the year that Charles Lindberg crossed the ocean; Babe Ruth broke the all-time home run record; the first talking motion picture was filmed; Jack Dempsey lost the famous “long count” fight to Gene Tunney; Sacco and Vanzetti were executed; eugenics was captivating the minds of scholars; and work was started on the carvings at Mount Rushmore.

We also hear about Ty Cobb, Clara Bow, Jack Dempsey, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Henry Ford, Lou Gehrig, Al Capone, and Rin Tin Tin, among others. Since most of us are unlikely to pour through histories of all these people, it’s very entertaining to find out some of the most interesting and/or outrageous stories about them.

Jim and I listened to this book on audiotape. We thought the narration by Bryson was competent, although I did wince every time Bryson added an “r” to Washington. But Bryson’s enthusiasm for his subject was evident.

Rating: 4/5

Published unabridged on 14 compact discs (17 hours of listening), with narration by Bill Bryson, by Random House Audio, a division of Random House, 2013

Note: One of the landmark events of 1927 was the release of the movie Wings, which won the first ever Academy Award for Best Picture in 1927. Bryson goes into some detail about what made this movie so special. You can get an idea yourself in this trailer for the newly remastered version of that movie:

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10 Responses

  1. That was also the year of the big flood that happened in The Tilted World too, wasn’t it? It is amazing that all of that happened as well. I’m going to see if my library has this.

  2. I listened to the audio (CD for me) of this too. It took my a while to get used to Bryson’s narration but I came to like it fine. My mom was born in January 1927 so I found the book especially fascinating and shared every little detail with her. I’m sure she was glad when I was through with the book so she didn’t have to hear about it anymore.

  3. I’ve read Bryson before and enjoyed him, so this sounds excellent.

  4. I love Bryson. He is quite the storyteller. I got a kick out of that Wings clip you shared. I need to read this one. I was so in love with Bryson one summer that I read much of his travel narratives but haven’t gotten to him more recent stuff.

  5. haven’t read this one, but I am a huge Bryson fan. When he narrated The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, I almost peed in my pants:) I could so relate to growing up at the same time as Bryson.

  6. I’ll have to get to this at some point! I’ve read a couple of his other books, but I don’t think I’ve listened to any of them.

  7. I have this one in my audiobook queue at the library! Excited to try it :-) I also have his At Home, which sounds fascinating but perhaps not made for audiobook…

  8. That trailer is awful, but the movie is wonderful. I got to see it on the big screen with live music a few years ago. Played to a packed house. We all loved it.

    Sounds like a fun book, too.

  9. Adding an r to Washington drives me bonkers.

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