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Review – One Summer: America, 1927

March 20, 2014

One Summer

The summer of 1927 was an important one in American history.  It was the year Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic making him an instant celebrity.  It was also the year Babe Ruth set a home run record that would last for years.  But, there was so much more than that going on – crazy weather, horrible crimes, innovative movies, arrogant athletes, and corrupt politicians were all news of the day.

Bill Bryson explores the historic events of that momentous summer in his book One Summer: America, 1927 and I found it endlessly fascinating and somewhat reassuring.  This book is meticulously researched and full of facts but it reads like fiction so it’s never dull.  I was amazed at how much the summer of 1927 mirrored our world today.  There was violence and terrorism as well as hero worship.  Athletes and celebrities behaved badly and politicians did too.  The weather was crazy and unpredictable.   The murder rate in most cities was actually higher than it is today!  I have to admit that this made me feel better about the future – if we got past it then, hopefully we can do it again.  (The nonstop media we  have now really doesn’t help things, in my opinion.)

My mother was born in 1927 and I think knowing that made the book even more fascinating for me.  I’m sure she was glad when I was through with the book because she (and many other people) heard about every little detail.  In case you can’t tell, I thought this book was terrific!  It brought history alive for me and I couldn’t get enough of it!

I listened to the audio version of One Summer: America, 1927 which is narrated by the author.  It took me a little while to get used to his voice but, once I did, I enjoyed it and looked forward to getting back to the audio.  It’s on 14 CDs and lasts about 17 hours.

Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.
28 Comments leave one →
  1. sandynawrot permalink
    March 20, 2014 6:13 am

    I just ordered this from the library, based on Jill’s review. What was kind of cool is that I’d just finished The Tilted World, which was a fictional story about bootlegging, against the backdrop of that huge flood in the same year. I can’t wait to listen.

  2. March 20, 2014 7:07 am

    This is on my list. I’m a big Bryson fan. Your mom is a year older than my mom.

  3. March 20, 2014 7:44 am

    My mother was born in 27 also and it’s so interesting to me that I never even made that connection until you mentioned it! LOL

  4. March 20, 2014 7:56 am

    I’m glad to hear you liked this one, this has been a book I have considered giving as a gift for my father-in-law and you review has convinced me he would enjoy it.

  5. March 20, 2014 9:40 am

    This sounds really good. My mother-in-law, she passed away a few weeks ago, was born in 1926. She was blind and was a fan of audiobooks. I think she would have loved this book!

  6. Beth Hoffman permalink
    March 20, 2014 9:48 am

    I received this book as a birthday gift. I’m reading it in small bits at a time, but so far I like it a lot.

  7. March 20, 2014 10:31 am

    I think I’d love this one, too!

  8. Patty permalink
    March 20, 2014 11:55 am

    It sounds quite lovely…one I want to read!

  9. March 20, 2014 1:09 pm

    “Crazy weather, horrible crimes, innovative movies, arrogant athletes, and corrupt politicians” –it sounds like things haven’t changed much since 1927! 🙂

  10. March 20, 2014 3:43 pm

    Wow, all that factual material and it reads like fiction…this is something to behold! I do agree that the 24/7 media is not helping matters.

  11. March 20, 2014 5:13 pm

    Endlessly fascinating… is how I find all of Bryson’s books. He just knows how to tell a story and pull people in.

  12. talesofwhimsy permalink
    March 20, 2014 5:22 pm

    I love that it was worst then it is now. That definitely gives me hope too. Great review.

  13. March 20, 2014 7:02 pm

    This one sounds interesting!

  14. March 20, 2014 8:35 pm

    17 hours is a lot! I feel encouraged that you enjoyed every bit of it for that long, so I look forward to checking it out.

  15. March 21, 2014 8:02 am

    Wonderful review Kathy. I’m glad you enjoyed this book. One Summer: America, 1927 sounds fascinating!

  16. March 21, 2014 8:23 am

    I’ve had this book on my TBR list for a long time – your review makes me want to finally pick it up!

  17. March 21, 2014 8:46 am

    I have this book sitting in my TBR pile. Glad to know you enjoyed it. We listened to Bill Bryson narrate his book “Walk in the Woods’. Same thing….it took us a while to get into his rhythm, but it too was good.
    (I just got back from helping my dad out with my mom….it will take me a while to catch up with things around here)

  18. March 21, 2014 10:53 am

    I don’t do audios, but I have had this on my e-book wishlist for a few months. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it so much! My father, who has passed, was born in 1923, and I would love to know more about the era of his early childhood and this country in general. Thanks for a great review!

  19. March 21, 2014 1:56 pm

    This sounds like an interesting book. My mom was born in the summer of 1927. I like Bryson and may have to give this one a listen.

  20. March 21, 2014 4:53 pm

    I love trivia so this sounds really good to me! My dad was born in 1921 and mom in 1925, so the book interests me for that reason too! I’d probably read the book though, 17 yrs. seems like such a long time to be listening to an audio book.

  21. March 22, 2014 1:44 pm

    I am crazy about Bill Bryson, and the 1920’s. Your review makes this book all the more compelling. I’ve also thought how the 20’s mirror our world today, so much excess so little morality.

  22. March 22, 2014 2:00 pm

    Somehow I missed hearing about this audiobook but it sounds like one I would enjoy.

  23. March 22, 2014 4:50 pm

    This is the second glowing review I’ve read by fellow bloggers and you’ve definitley convinced me that I need to get this one for Jason…and then he can share all those little details with me!

  24. March 23, 2014 1:43 pm

    Hi Kathy,

    I don’t do audio books, however it is so refreshing to hear of an author who narrates his own work. I have heard Bill Bryson speak and I quite like his voice and tonal qualities.

    We sit here and watch the news, moralising on peoples bad standards and excesses, however one of our friends who once remarked that there is really no difference in behaviour between now and decades ago, probably had it summed up nicely.

    Maybe much of the problem, as you touched upon, is the immediacy with which information can be shared and accessed. I am just hoping that everything goes around in cycles, so that the good times will return one day, I am not sure that things can get too much worse!!

    I have to admit that I have never read a Bill Bryson book, although I fear that I am very much in the minority. However from your glowing review, I can see just how much you enjoyed ‘One Summer’, so thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  25. March 23, 2014 3:46 pm

    I love Bryson’s book especially on audio although I have mostly read his travelogues. I like your perspective on it being reassuring – that is the beauty of history – it can be very instructive for modern day.

  26. March 26, 2014 2:14 pm

    I just brought this audiobook home from the library yesterday. I like Bill Bryson and now I’m excited to hear he is the narrator as well. Thanks for the warning that it may take me a while to get used to his voice.

    I like your link to the book via your mom’s birth year. My mom was born in 1920 and I’ve found myself wanting to know about the world of her childhood. (I wish I’d asked her.) History is important and I think the learnings from it are personal.

  27. March 29, 2014 3:27 pm

    I’ve had my eye on this book for a while and this review definitely made me want to pick it up right away. I love nonfiction books that make me want to tell everyone around me all the interesting facts!

  28. bookingmama permalink
    March 29, 2014 6:57 pm

    I love that so much of what happened in 1927 is still relevant today. I bet this book was fascinating!

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