Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “One Summer: America, 1927” as Want to Read:
One Summer: America, 1927
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

One Summer: America, 1927

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  44,133 ratings  ·  4,902 reviews
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 Atlantic by plane nonstop, and when he landed in Le Bourget ai
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Doubleday (first published August 1st 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about One Summer, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Elizabeth Alas, the link to Bryson's footnotes for One Summer, that Larry Orr posted, is broken. However, as of February 2017, there is a live link to the 119 p…moreAlas, the link to Bryson's footnotes for One Summer, that Larry Orr posted, is broken. However, as of February 2017, there is a live link to the 119 page pdf of Source Notes for One Summer on the following page to Bryson's online source notes for One Summer:

(Here is the link to the pdf: )

[R]eaders of my book are directed to a 119-page appendix available online that contains some 1,200 annotated source notes, enough to satisfy an academic far more scrupulous and attentive than he. The book’s bibliography contains some 300 entries and is accompanied by a section headed “Notes on Sources and Further Reading,” which discusses at some length (and with obvious familiarity) the principal books, journals, legal documents and other sources I consulted. These are regularly cited within the 500-odd pages of text of “One Summer” itself.

-Bill Bryson, Letter to Editor, Washington Post, 8 November 2013

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  44,133 ratings  ·  4,902 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of One Summer: America, 1927
Jim Fonseca
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction
A non-fiction work centered around events of one particular year but about the 1920’s in general. It’s really a collections of mini-biographies and vignettes of the major players and events of the 1920’a. Fifty photos are included. The two main characters threaded throughout the book whose stories provide a framework for the whole are Charles Lindbergh and Babe Ruth.

If you read this book, here’s what you’ll get:

Stories of early aviation and how the US was way behind Europe in scheduled commerci
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
There are some very obvious qualities to look for when choosing a history book. Accuracy is one thing. You want the facts to be factual. Analysis is another. You want there to be some meaning to the facts presented.

Storytelling, though. Storytelling is the thing. And it’s hard to find.

So often in my reading, I’ve found that narrative takes a backseat to academic qualities such as primary source sifting. It’s a shame, because I think storytelling is the paramount quality of a good history book.
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jason Koivu
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I know I'm Johnny-come-lately on the Bill Bryson bandwagon, but I am fast becoming a full-fledged fanclub member!

Honestly, I'd read just about anything that dude wrote. In fact, if I can convince him to write my obituary, I'm going to throw myself in front of a bus the first chance I get just so I can read it!

The title of One Summer: America, 1927 explains pretty clearly what's between the covers. And oh boy, what a whole heck of a lot happened that year! Here's some of the highlights >>>

Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book covers a lot of subjects.Some of it was interesting and sometimes I found my attention wandering.

Bryson starts off with the hazards of the early days of aviation.Then he tells the story of Charles Lindbergh,the flight to Paris that made him a hero and the public's obsession with him,on his return.

Also,the later part of his life,when he went through personal tragedy,his advocacy for eugenics,and his sympathies for Nazi Germany.It is an interesting story.

There is also a good deal about b
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone Interested in American History
Recommended to Carmen by: Don
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

[Insert Snake Plissken gif here]

Bill Bryson takes a look at almost everything going on in the summer of 1927. Think Sacco and Vanzetti, Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Al Capone, the invention of TV and talkies, Coolidge, Hoover, and Henry Ford.

What struck me most about this book is that the things going on in 1927 aren't that much different than the things going on today.

In the autumn of 1927 [Hoover's] opponents, of whom there were many, began
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Larry Bassett
Aug 23, 2013 rated it liked it
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:

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
Sam Quixote
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bill Bryson’s written another fantastic book though this time it’s not about his ramblings across our planet but a very specific point in history where numerous astonishing and world-changing events took place: the summer of 1927 in America.

It’s primarily about Charles Lindbergh and his plane The Spirit of St Louis crossing the Atlantic in a single flight for the first time. Bryson provides a truncated biography of Lindbergh and his family as well as the background circumstances of the flight a
Miranda Reads
Nov 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
When I picked this up, I had no idea that it would be so interesting

We travel forwards and backwards in history but all events converged to a significant moment during 1927. Unlike A Short History of Nearly Everything or At Home: A Short History of Private Life where Bill Bryson looks into the full picture behind centuries of research, we have an account in extreme detail about regarding a single year.

We have Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic - a person whose fame started in 1927 and who'
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 07, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history fans - specifically baseball fans
Shelves: usa
Bill Bryson fans seem to be divided into two groups. Those who prefer his fact-based books versus those who prefer his travelogues. I fall into the latter group. I am obsessed with his travelogues and plan on re-reading them all again, even though they’re quite dated. Some of those have made me laugh to the point of tears. I’ve really wanted to love his fact-based books, such as this one. I’m not there yet, but I haven’t given up. There are still a few more that I wouldn’t mind trying.

This book
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
One Summer America, 1927is clearly not a walk in the woods but a lazy stroll down memory lane. You may not know everyone who has a role in these pages but you're bound to be familiar with at least a few. Lindbergh, Hoover, Coolidge, Sacco and Vanzetti, Babe Ruth, and Sikorsky. Bryson gives us a tease on some and more detail on others. Unfortunately he jumps all over the place in these histories even though all his characters have something to do with that one summer. It's a a bit confusing and m ...more
Goran Skrobonja
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A definite return to form for Bryson after the disappointing 'At Home - A Short History of Private Life'.

Who would have thought that there was so much happening in one country in one year? Written with Bryson's more than usual trademark wit and with his skill of telling otherwise forgotten, obscure or neglected stories in an entertaining, informative and engaging way.

As usual he conveys these stories (connected more of less by the year 1927) with his usual his wide-eyed delivery - sharing his fa
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to David by: Jim Fonseca
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Content: 5 stars
Audio Book: 1 star

This is a fun, entertaining book by a great author. Bill Bryson has put together a set of intermingled stories about the big stories during the summer of 1927. These stories include Charles Lindbergh, his solo flight across the Atlantic and the aftermath, Al Capone and his brief career as the top mobster in Chicago, the story of prohibition, the flooding of the Mississippi River, the Yankees and their home-run hitters Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, the trials of Sacc
David Sherwood
I have always been a fan of Mr. Bryson. He writes with a friendly, witty style that I really like. I also admire him for what he has done for my country (England), in terms of protecting its rural landscapes and history.

It is not easy for me to criticize a Bill Bryson book, but with "One Summer: America 1927", I have not got past the prologue before sadly putting the book down.

The reason, Mr. Bryson has made two statements I think are misleading when there is no reason to do so.

Page 17, Paragra
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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 huge crowds would await 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 producing
Fascinating! Who Knew?!?!? Talk about a diversely encompassing, uncanny, and sometimes wildly surreal look back at 1920s America - primary focus,summer of 1927 - this is it.

From Charles Lindbergh to Al Capone, Prohibition to Eugenics, politics to philanderers, murder to mayhem, jazz to speakeasies, plus the Mississippi flood, the Great Migration, loony fads and crazy competitions, show boats and musicals, Hollywood, "Talkies", pulp fiction authors . . . . this tome covers a good bit of all.

Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in history
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: my husband
Shelves: history, nonfiction
What could possibly go wrong? Bryson chooses 1927 as the nexus of a decade unimpeded by such a simple question. As the 38 story Sherry-Netherland apartment building was being completed, it never occurred to the builders that fire hoses of the time had a range of a mere 4 stories. Of course the building caught fire. Fortunately, renters had not yet moved in. New Yorkers were always up for some lively entertainment, and the Plaza Hotel across the street was quickly filled with well-heeled spectato ...more
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2014
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
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Oh Bill, Bill, Bill, how I wish you were my uncle. I would love to have dinner and sit around and just listen to you talk and tell stories. Every time I read a Bryson book I am amazed at his easy going, funny tone coupled with research. I'm sure he does not actually sound this great in conversation, but boy can he write a nonfiction book.

Seriously, he manages to teach a bunch of stuff (and even spew for pages on end about baseball statistics) without my eyes rolling back into my head. I would ha
Marvin Fein
Jan 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
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.
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Much as I enjoy Bill Bryson's travel and autobiographical writing, I like his histories – A Short History of Nearly Everything and this – even better. This is just marvelously funny, appalling, startling, and fascinating. Who would have thought that one summer could encompass so much?

Actually, of course, Bryson doesn't limit his story to America in the summer of 1927. He moves forward and backward in time, to more fully tell about events, and he takes readers with his characters to South America
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the 1920s
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Charles Lindbergh’s solo transatlantic flight from Long Island to Paris launches this book and author Bill Bryson describes the insane levels of global celebrity and adoration Lindbergh achieved by winning the distinction of being the first person to cross a major ocean by air. It was a little like Beatlemania, only with one guy and no music.

One Summer: America, 1927 is a social history of the United States in the year 1927, organized around the famous personalities of the day and their accomp
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
  • Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
  • Hand Made Baking: Recipes to Warm the Heart
  • The Extraordinary Parents of St. Therese of Lisieux: Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin
  • The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History
  • The Wright Brothers
  • Thunderstruck
  • Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History
  • Africa's Child (Dancing Soul Trilogy, #1)
  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
  • The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West
  • What Catholics Really Believe--Setting the Record Straight: 52 Answers to Common Misconceptions About the Catholic Faith
  • The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism
  • Walks with Walser
  • New World Coming: The 1920s And The Making Of Modern America
  • The Running Sky: A Bird-Watching Life
  • Vår ære og vår makt
  • The Little Book of Maths Theorems
See similar books…
William McGuire "Bill" Bryson, OBE, FRS 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, Bil

Related Articles

Need another excuse to go to the bookstore this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our list,...
30 likes · 12 comments
“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.” 8 likes
“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. So it is perhaps worth pausing for a moment to remember just some of the things that happened that summer: Babe Ruth hit sixty 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 flooded as it never had before. A madman in Michigan blew up a school and killed forty-four people in the worst slaughter of children in American history. Henry Ford stopped making the Model T and promised to stop insulting Jews. And a kid from Minnesota flew across an ocean and captivated the planet in a way it had never been captivated before. Whatever else it was, it was one hell of a summer.” 7 likes
More quotes…