One Summer

One Summer

America 1927

eBook - 2013
Average Rating:
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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 Atlantic by plane nonstop, and when he landed in Le Bourget airfield near Paris, he ignited an explosion of worldwide rapture and instantly became the most famous person on the planet. Meanwhile, the titanically talented Babe Ruth was beginning his assault on the home run record, which would culminate on September 30 with his sixtieth blast, one of the most resonant and durable records in sports history. In between those dates a Queens housewife named Ruth Snyder and her corset-salesman lover garroted her husband, leading to a murder trial that became a huge tabloid sensation. Alvin "Shipwreck" Kelly sat atop a flagpole in Newark, New Jersey, for twelve days--a new record. The American South was clobbered by unprecedented rain and by flooding of the Mississippi basin, a great human disaster, the relief efforts for which were guided by the uncannily able and insufferably pompous Herbert Hoover. Calvin Coolidge interrupted an already leisurely presidency for an even more relaxing three-month vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The gangster Al Capone tightened his grip on the illegal booze business through a gaudy and murderous reign of terror and municipal corruption. The first true "talking picture," Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer , was filmed and forever changed the motion picture industry. The four most powerful central bankers on earth met in secret session on a Long Island estate and made a fateful decision that virtually guaranteed a future crash and depression.
     All this and much, much more transpired in that epochal summer of 1927, and Bill Bryson captures its outsized personalities, exciting events, and occasional just plain weirdness with his trademark vividness, eye for telling detail, and delicious humor. In that year America stepped out onto the world stage as the main event, and One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order.


From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, 2013
ISBN: 9780385537827
0385537824
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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AL_LESLEY Nov 23, 2016

Bill Bryson is awesome.

m
MeWilliam
Aug 04, 2016

Fun listen. Big on Babe Ruth and Charles Lindbergh.

l
lydschar4
Jun 28, 2016

Another terrific book by Bill Bryson. I had no idea so many memorable events and people made history in 1927. Includes Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, the dawn of talking movies, carving Mt. Rushmore and the greatest baseball team of all time - the 1927 New York Yankees with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. And many more. Very entertaining and well researched. I also really enjoyed listening to the audio CD version.

m
marthabwaters
Apr 20, 2016

This is, for the most part, a witty, amusing read, as most books of Bryson's are -- he has a gift for spotting (and lampooning) the most absurd bits of historical trivia, as those familiar with his travel books know quite well. And this was an interesting topic for a book -- 1927 was, indeed, a rather remarkable summer, given that it included, among many other things, Babe Ruth's home run record, Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic, and the filming of "The Jazz Singer". However, I think the overall feel was a bit too anecdotal. There needed to be a stronger thesis tying all of these events together to really make this book feel like it had something to say other than, "Look at these things that happened one year." You'll enjoy reading it nonetheless -- but you'll come away feeling ever-so-slightly dissatisfied.

k
KWALKER101
Mar 14, 2016

Unlike most of Bryson's other books, this is a heavy historical doorstop. It took me ages to get through it; it's well-written and thorough, but not really what I was thinking of when I picked it up. Fault of mine? Maybe a fault on both sides, really, since that doesn't change the fact that although the book is /interesting/, it's still a lot of work to read. I had to set aside two weeks and renew everything else I had out.

c
c2daven
Dec 27, 2015

A romp theough only one summer in the history of the U.S., but written in a humorous way that makes me want to know a LOT more about American history. A great read!

r
rb3221
Dec 23, 2015

Amazing that one year could have as many historic events as 1927 - Charles Lindberg crosses the Atlantic and becomes an international hero; Al Capone becomes the legend that he is; Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney have the still controversial fight of the century; Henry Ford becomes rich and famous with his Model T, then completely flops with his Model A, which allows GM to take over as industry leader; the Mount Rushmore carvings begin.
Bryson manages to skillfully weave all these stories and many more in a fascinating and entertaining account of 1927. He does jump around a lot but manages to do so quite skillfully. Overall an enjoyable book!!

i
IV27HUjg
Jun 04, 2015

Good, but not my favorite (At Home) with his facts for the unusual. He narrates with his great sense of humor, very dry.

c
cuwabig1
Feb 08, 2015

Disappointing - a very selective history, exaggerated in some instances to buttress his point that he believes the summer of 1927 to be singular in its remarkable events. Offers no citations to read more about the points the author makes. Slightly 'snarky' humor about many historical figures.

h
Hopalong_Kid
Dec 01, 2014

Interesting book. Effective narrative that uses the focus on a single year, that cumulatively characterizes the 1920s.

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