February 11, 2014

Book Review: One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything, A Walk in the Woods) is back with a quirky history of 1920s America sure to please loyal readers and new fans alike.

One Summer: America, 1927 is the story of a pivotal year in American history. In the span of a few short months, Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, The Jazz Singer changed the movie industry, Babe Ruth hit an astonishing 60 home runs and "the crime of the century" (the murder of a man by his wife and her corset salesman lover) riveted the nation.

Bryson skillfully weaves together all of those stories, supplementing them with fascinating information on race relations, the presidency, Prohibition, business, Al Capone's domination of Chicago and the seeds for a stock market crash most people didn't see coming. These diverse subjects blend together to create a gripping composite history.

Bryson reads the audiobook of One Summer: America, 1927, and his rather unusual accent--he grew up in Iowa and lives in England--provides an interesting contrast to the more polished voices of professional narrators. His narration is clear, wryly delivering each line to perfection. The oft-changing topics make the 17 hours fly by, keeping the listener engaged all the way. Fans of Bryson's other books--or anyone who enjoys American history, baseball or aviation--will find One Summer fascinating.

I know I've mentioned One Summer several times before - it made my Most Memorable Books of 2013 list, and a couple of "What I'm Reading" lists, since the audiobook took me quite a while to finish. But I loved every minute I listened to. I'd guess I listened to about 12 of the 17 hours, and then filled in with the library hardback version for the remaining parts. With an unpredictable little baby (Juliet was only about 2 weeks old when I was reading it) it was easier to have multiple formats to alternate between!

Rating: 5 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Sure!

Do you like it when authors read their books?

I originally wrote most of this post for Shelf Awareness. And it contains a few of my affiliate links.