Lars Guthrie's Reviews > Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States

Made in America by Bill Bryson
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's review
Dec 19, 08

Read in December, 2008

What bothered me in "The Mother Tongue" was more irritating in this companion piece: the laundry lists of words categorized in catch-all bins. Exhausting for this reader. Also, this time, Bryson's blithe and breezy commentary seemed less witty and more shallow. He appears determined to shoot down myths of American cultural history, but looking at the footnotes, the research is weak. One example: Bryson dismisses Zane Grey as "a New York dentist who knew almost nothing of the West but refused to let that get in the way of a good tale." I've read Grey's accounts of his cougar hunting trips into the Grand Canyon and visited the recreation of his cabin on the Mongollon Rim in Payson, Arizona, so I knew that isn't really true. A cursory investigation would have changed Bryson's judgment, but it wouldn't have been as amusing. Nevertheless, Bryson is amusing and entertaining.
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