One Summer: America, 1927
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One Summer: America, 1927

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  10,524 ratings  ·  1,846 reviews
A Chicago Tribune Noteworthy Book
A GoodReads Reader's Choice

In One Summer Bill Bryson, one of our greatest and most beloved nonfiction writers, transports readers on a journey back to one amazing season in American life.


The summer of 1927 began with one of the signature events of the twentieth century: on May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first man to cross the At...more
Hardcover, 509 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Doubleday
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Diane
This is a fun and interesting look at America in the 1920s, but specifically the summer of 1927. It is remarkable how much happened in a few short months:

"Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs. The Federal Reserve made the mistake that precipitated the stock market crash. Al Capone enjoyed his last summer of eminence. The Jazz Singer was filmed. Television was created. Radio came of age. Sacco and Vanzetti were executed. President Coolidge chose not to run. Work began on Mount Rushmore. The Mississippi flo...more
Kemper
If you think that you had a busy summer, consider 1927:

Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic and became a national hero. Babe Ruth broke his own home run record on a Yankees club that would be remembered as one of the best baseball teams ever assembled. The Midwest was devastated by extensive flooding and the Secretary of Commerce Hebert Hoover was in charge of recovery efforts. A routine murder trial in New York became a media sensation for reasons no one can explain. Sacco and Vanzetti were e...more
Larry Bassett
Oct 06, 2013 Larry Bassett rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bill Bryson fans
Shelves: history, nonfiction
It has been a long time since I have read a Bill Bryson book so when I happened upon an opportunity to win an ARC of One Summer: America, 1927, I jumped at the chance. Bryson is nothing if not prolific. He cranks them out. C-SPAN’s Book TV has an eight minute interview with him about his most recent effort: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEx_GC...

Since I received the ARC of One Summer just a month before publication, I was not able to read the entire 448 page book prior to its publication. But I...more
Mike
Only one man could take Charles Lindbergh's 1927 transatlantic flight, Babe Ruth's record setting home runs, the worst flooding in US History, a surprise announcement by President Coolidge, the execution of two Italian anarchists, the introduction of taking motion pictures, television and the electric chair and dozens of other totally unrelated events that happened during the Summer of 1927 and connect the dots. Of course, I'm talking about Des Moines' own, Bill Bryson.

Several years ago I picked...more
Dedra
A five star review from an avowed fiction reader for a non fiction book is pretty rare. But this book kept me just as enthralled as a great novel. What a summer 1927 was and what a storyteller Bill Bryson is! From the fascinating little known facts about Charles Lindbergh's flight (and all the disastrous attempts before him) that I had to read aloud to my husband saying, "Did you know this?" to the gossipy stories about Babe Ruth, Calvin Coolidge and some really stupid murderers, I couldn't put...more
Sam
In his first major book published in 1989, Bill Bryson took a roadtrip around the United States in his mother's aged car. His account of 1980s America was honest, biting, and pee-your-pants funny. Yet looking back on that early book from the vantage of Bryson's more recent works, one is surprised to remember just how cynical Bill Bryson used to be. The 1989 book on America was titled "The Lost Continent." Now, in 2013, Bryson seems to have finally found the United States in his newest labor, One...more
Paula
I have very mixed feelings about this book. I gave it 3 stars because I did like the wealth of information in the book. But I felt like that information was presented in a very disjointed way. Going month by month was OK, but I felt like the titles on the sections were misleading--I was expecting a whole section to be about the section heading--not so. And all the little "aside" stories thrown in were interesting, even if not familiar, but also seemed to just pop up anywhere in the book. Maybe I...more
Brandon
With the summer of 1927 being one of America’s most historic, celebrated non-fiction writer Bill Bryson took a long, hard look at everything that went down that year in his acclaimed 2013 release, One Summer: America, 1927. Events covered include:

- Charles Lindbergh becoming the first man to cross the Atlantic Ocean alone in an airplane – without stopping for refueling or for navigational purposes.

- The sensationalization of crime and the rise of the tabloid.

- Babe Ruth breaking his own record f
...more
Goran Skrobonja
OK,this is the 5th Bill Bryson's book I translated to Serbian (the previous ones being A Short History of Almost Everything, Made In America, At Home and Down Under) and I am delighted again. Once there was a series of thin volumes called "Bluff Your Way" or "Bluffer's Guide to..." covering a wide range of themes with sparse facts and humorous approach; well, Bryson uses the similar formula in his non-travelogue titles like this one, but with more ambition, more research and definitely more humo...more
J.W. Ironmonger
Is there any kind of book that couldn't be improved a thousandfold by getting Bill Bryson to write it? Already my favourite-books-list includes 'Mother Tongue' a glorious history of the English language, 'A Short History of Everything,' which wraps up a thousand years of science and 'At Home' which is a cosy history of domesticity. And I've lost count of the number of times I've recommended Bryson's 'Shakespeare'. So that's linguistics, science, and literary biography to add to the canon of trav...more
Amanda
I bought this book sight-unseen, simply on the assumption that a book by Bill Bryson was worth the money, and had no idea what it was about.

It's about, it turns out, the summer of 1927, in which an astonishing amount of American history happened. From the last chapter:

"Not even much survives as memory. Many of the most notable names of the summer -- Richard Byrd, Sacco and Vanzetti, Gene Tunney, even Charles Lindbergh -- are rarely encountered now, and most of the others are never heard at all...more
Scott
Millions of words have been spent singing Bill Bryson's praises, so please allow me to add to them. His latest work of brilliant, comedic non-fiction, "One Summer: America, 1927," ranks among his greatest works. It's hard to think of a more insightful, more hilarious author working today.

Bryson's thesis is simple - America in the summer of 1927 may not have realized it, but it was taking its first steps as a world leader - in economics, in the arts, in sports, and in technology. Some of these de...more
Tracee
The title is a bit of a misnomer, as 'One Summer' is much more expansive than its title suggests. The book is a social and cultural history of America during the 1920s, which reads something like a modern version of the classic 'Only Yesterday' by Frederick Allen Lewis. The book does not present any new research or conclusions, but it is nonetheless an enjoyable read, as Bryson is a gifted storyteller with a special talent for illuminating the most interesting and entertaining details of every h...more
Arminius
1927 has to be one of the most fascinating years in American history. Americans were rich and hungered for celebrities. The first celebrity status was thrown on to an unwillingly participant Charles Lindbergh. His flight across the Atlantic made him the most famous man in the world. Wherever he would fly to huge crowds would wait to see him. In fact, his appearance at the National Mall in Washington D.C attracted the largest crowd to ever gather there.

Also, Babe Ruth changed Baseball by producin...more
Jerome
Won it in a giveaway, and it turned out to be a great read, despite my own lack of general interest in the time period.

In this volume, Bryson focuses on particular individuals and their particular accomplishments during 1927. All of them historically interesting, even weird. Charles Lindbergh was antisocial, President Coolidge liked to having his scalp massaged with Vaseline while he ate breakfast, Lou Gehrig was unnaturally devoted to his mother. Of course, this makes for a fun and lively narra...more
Mary Rose
If you do not think the sun shines out of Bill Bryson's butt, then don't bother reading my review. Because I love him.

Every memoir he's written, that I've read, is engaging, thoughtful, and hilarious.

And I've read several of his compilation history books. I'm always in awe of how his brain must connect ideas. I mean, who thinks of writing a book about a 4 month period in 1927? Who else would realize how many game-changing things were happening? Bill Bryson, that's who.

Admittedly there's a lot...more
Jaylia3
Bill Bryson is a writer who could make anything fascinating and he really shines in this book. I had no idea the summer of 1927 was so noteworthy, but it turns out a bunch of remarkable people were involved in a lot of impressive and/or notorious activities, including Al Capone, Babe Ruth, Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, Herbert Hoover, and a host of others--some of whom I’d never heard of. Due to personal preferences parts of the book interested me more than others, but Bryson’s skill as a story...more
Todd Martin
Not surprisingly, One Summer: America, 1927 is a history of the various activities that were taking place around the US during the summer of that year. Key events, people and topics that Bryson covers in some detail include: Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic (and aviation in general), the scandalous murder trial of Judith Snyder and Judd Gray, prohibition, Herbert Hoover, Babe Ruth, Al Capone, the transition from silent to talking film and Henry Ford.

I enjoy Bryson’s writing quite...more
Shawn Thrasher
If you've read and loved Bill Bryson in the past, you shouldn't be disappointed in this new book. It's more of a straightforward history than some of his previous stuff, but still chock full of Bryson's easy going, comfortable, sometimes droll, but always well written style. One Summer is both filled with both big ideas and events and bits and pieces of pop cultural memorabilia about the particularly eventful, forceful and quintessential 1920s year (and American year) of 1927. Bryson's makes con...more
Cindy
It's been said that some people can sing the phone book and make it sound beautiful. Bill Bryson could write the phone book and make it interesting and entertaining, not that One Summer, America, 1927 is comparable at all to a phone book. One Summer vividly explores the U.S. during a particularly entrancing time when explorers were taking to the sky, Babe Ruth blasted onto the baseball field, talking pictures were invented and gangsters were rolling in the dough, getting rich from prohibition.

On...more
Meaghan
I have a librarian friend who gave me a copy of this several months in advance of publication. It was excellent. I mean, I've liked all the Bryson books, but this might very well be his best so far. I had no idea so many things were going on during 1927. I had no idea Charles Lindbergh invented a (very) minor medical device, or that Herbert Hoover was a hero, or all those things he talks about in this book. It was a great time to be alive in America. I wish I'd been there.

Highly recommended for...more
Marvin Fein
Jan 03, 2014 Marvin Fein rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Could be the dullest accumulation of facts ever put into 456 pages. Bryson may have other successes but he was greatly in need of an editor with real guts on this one.
David Powell
I have read all of Bryson's books. That is not something I would recommend to everyone in that a couple of his books are about the history of the English language in England (The Mother Tongue) and America (Made in America). I love those two and would recommend them to those for whom this is an intriguing topic. All of the rest of Bryson's output would be on my "you should read" list. "One Summer: America 1927" is a remarkable book. (By the way, I hate that I have to put titles that should be i...more
Rob Warner
If I were a king, I would be Bill Bryson's patron. I'd spend my days reading as he wrote, neglecting all other responsibilities.

In One Summer, Bryson pulls together all the summer's major events, their backstories, and their eventual conclusions in an incredibly readable way. I learned much about our nation, about the personalities from the day, and about the day's climate and culture. The story covers both the well-known (Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Al Capone), and the lesser-known. I learned...more
Aaron Barnhart
Almost nothing in this book is from the summer of 1927. Now, I'm all for a good marketing gimmick, but when David von Drehle (say) promises a book about 1862, by god, it's a book about 1862. Bill Bryson is a clever and funny writer, but frankly, he tries way too hard to keep up the pretense that this is a book all about the wacky and wild summer of 1927. You will read in this book lengthy discurses about the Harding administration, Herbert Hoover's relief efforts, Jack Dempsey's boxing career, H...more
Natalie
With his typical gentle wit and mild astonishment, Bill Bryson describes the events of one game-changing season: the summer of 1927. Naturally, telling the story of all these aviators, railroad magnates, baseball prodigies, Fascist bombers, alcoholic novelists, and sensational murderers requires lots of back-story, so much more than 1927 is covered in this book. But the reader really comes away with a sense of wonder that so many world-changing events could have gone down in three or four months...more
Biblio Files
You can always count on Bill Bryson to write an entertaining, lively book. If I had an ebook of this title, I could easily check how many times the words "odd," "unusual," "peculiar," "eccentric," and similar words were used. I think it would be a large number, because Bryson's history of the summer of 1927 is focused on individuals -- Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Calvin Coolidge, Al Capone, and many others, all of whom have more than a few little quirks. Lindbergh is anti-social, Coolidge like...more
Kirsti
I enjoy Bill Bryson so much that I put this on reserve at the library in four different formats without actually finding out what it's about. The audiobook CDs arrived, and I put the first disc in the player without reading the front or back cover. An hour later, I was thinking, "Okay, we've covered an apartment fire and the history of airplane design and Paris and . . . wait a minute, is this book about Charles Lindbergh?"

It is. And Babe Ruth. And the gold standard, and Prohibition, and Mabel W...more
Jason
Well it only took me TEN months but I am telling you all that this was the book of the year for me. It took me a few days (I kept picking it up and putting it down) but once I got into it - total immersion from start to finish. Originally I was questionable as to why the author picked 1927 as a type of narrative structure, but as I began reading it it became clearer to me. I was wondering why he didn't go further back into the decade. The author uses the events of one faraway summer to expand on...more
Fred Forbes
I started this as I have been a Bryson fan since "A Walk in the Woods" some years ago and a positive review appeared in our local paper. I really wasn't expecting much. How interesting could a single American summer be? Especially one that preceded me by 2 decades. I mean I know most of this stuff - Babe Ruth's record, Lou Gehrig's history, the flight of Lindbergh, etc. Little did I know! The Chinese curse comes to mind - "May you live in interesting times!" These were extremely interesting time...more
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B.B.B.C.: Bookish...: Soccer, Football, Baseball, Baskerball.... 2 2 Jul 14, 2014 04:57AM  
Great Louisville ...: Soccer or Football 1 1 Jul 03, 2014 10:19PM  
Born in 1927 11 54 Jan 20, 2014 08:15AM  
52 weeks, 52 books: Week 47: One Summer 1 41 Nov 15, 2013 11:38AM  
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7
Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer. He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire. He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.

In The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson's hilarious first t...more
More about Bill Bryson...
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail A Short History of Nearly Everything Notes from a Small Island In a Sunburned Country At Home: A Short History of Private Life

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“The 1920s was a great time for reading altogether—very possibly the peak decade for reading in American life. Soon it would be overtaken by the passive distractions of radio, but for the moment reading remained most people’s principal method for filling idle time. Each year, American publishers produced 110 million books, more than 10,000 separate titles, double the number of ten years before. For those who felt daunted by such a welter of literary possibility, a helpful new phenomenon, the book club, had just made its debut. The Book-of-the-Month Club was founded in 1926 and was followed the next year by the Literary Guild.” 2 likes
“FOR WARREN G. HARDING, the summer of 1927 was not a good one, which was perhaps a little surprising since he had been dead for nearly four years by then.” 2 likes
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