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One Summer: America, 1927

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  32,223 Ratings  ·  3,974 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
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Hardcover, 456 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Doubleday (first published August 2013)
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Sandy Brehl When you see the name Bill Bryson you can rest assured that is extensive researched from authoritative/reliable sources. Just finished reading this…moreWhen you see the name Bill Bryson you can rest assured that is extensive researched from authoritative/reliable sources. Just finished reading this and will post a review later today.(less)

Community Reviews

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Jim Fonseca
Jan 05, 2017 Jim Fonseca rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, history
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
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Diane
Jun 03, 2013 Diane 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
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Kemper
Oct 10, 2013 Kemper 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
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Matt
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.
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Jason Koivu
Jun 25, 2015 Jason Koivu 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 >>&
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Carmen
Sep 04, 2014 Carmen 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
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Mike
Aug 17, 2013 Mike 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
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Larry Bassett
Aug 23, 2013 Larry Bassett rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Bill Bryson fans
Shelves: nonfiction, history
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
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Dedra
Jul 04, 2013 Dedra 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
Paula
Nov 07, 2013 Paula 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
Sam
Jul 11, 2013 Sam 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
David
May 20, 2017 David rated it liked it
Recommended to David by: Jim Fonseca
Shelves: nonfiction, history
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
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Goran Skrobonja
Jan 23, 2014 Goran Skrobonja 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
Jason
Oct 24, 2013 Jason rated it it was amazing
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
Arminius
Apr 29, 2014 Arminius 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
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Carol
Sep 27, 2014 Carol 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
John Ironmonger
Oct 02, 2013 John Ironmonger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
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
Brandon
Jun 17, 2014 Brandon 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
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Marvin Fein
Jan 03, 2014 Marvin Fein 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.
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
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Pamela
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.

One
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Ms.pegasus
Jul 31, 2014 Ms.pegasus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in history
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: my husband
Shelves: nonfiction, history
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
Melora
Jun 02, 2016 Melora 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
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Tracee
Oct 10, 2013 Tracee 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
Jaylia3
Aug 13, 2013 Jaylia3 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
Scott
Jul 18, 2013 Scott rated it it was amazing
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
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Todd Martin
Sep 27, 2013 Todd Martin rated it liked it
Shelves: history
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
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Emily
Oct 01, 2013 Emily rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It combines two of my favorite things--weird facts and American history--and it made me laugh out loud several times. I have to go back through my notes in order to write up a proper review, as the book looks like this right now:

Jerome
Aug 12, 2013 Jerome rated it really liked it
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
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Sheri
Mar 02, 2017 Sheri 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
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William McGuire "Bill" Bryson, OBE, FRS

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 Con
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“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.” 6 likes
“Every day in every way I am getting better and better.”*” 5 likes
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