Saturday, November 30, 2013

ONE SUMMER: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

I'm going to stick my neck out now and say One Summer by Bill Bryson gets my vote for my Book of the Year!
Yes, with some weeks left in 2013 and a bit of reading to do I doubt I will find anything that has caught my attention as much as this.
I have loved Bill Bryson for many years and read all of his books, and recently been reliving them through talking book - Bill reading his own stories. That is something to behold! Or is it belisten?
He has the most lovely trans-Atlantic accent and his turn of phrase is like no other; you get the nuances, and his very subtle and dry humour with him reading his own words!
And what words too, his use of language and descriptors are delightful.
Over the years he has moved from travel stories to historic pieces, still in his own inimitable style but not quite as juicy as the earlier stuff.
One Summer is a return to glory and may well be the best thing he has ever written.
It is history, the history of America in one amazing Summer in 1927, and what a Summer that was!
Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic and aviation was in full swing. Babe Ruth begun hitting them out the ballpark in Baseball. The Mississippi basin flooded. There was murder and bombings, all reported heavily by newspapers which were at their peak and becoming tabloidy. Al Capone was at large. The first talkie, The Jazz Singer, was filmed. Mount Rushmore began to take shape. And the stock market crashed.
One Summer focuses on Aviation and Baseball initially, which I admit is not an area I would normally read about and it was fascinating, but after a few chapters, my attention began to wan. Just as that happened he started to introduce other strands of subject matter. He weaves in and out of each story, giving you a little back history, just enough to bring you to the pivotal point in 1927 and then sweep into something else. It is beautifully constructed and makes the varying subject matter easy to follow and enjoy.
It is one hell of a ride, there are other minor stories, including presidents and political officials, celebrities of the time, important figures in history who's names are long forgotten and less important figures who we cannot forget. He writes about popular music, authors and films of the time also. It covers all bases. His eye for detail, the kind of detail that is intriguing and interesting, is superb. He knows what will lure people in.
I have listened to this over the past three weeks, only when I was in my car and missed it so, when I was home sick and not driving!
I cannot recommend it highly enough, in book form or on talking book.
Go, go, go now!

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