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Book Review: One Summer: America, 1927

Picture 2One Summer: America, 1927
Bill Bryson
October 2013

Review copy provided by publisher

One summer. One third of the year. Just over a hundred days. You wouldn’t think that the world could change that much during that time….but you’d be wrong. The summer of 1927 changed the world. Charles Lindbergh, an unknown pilot, became the first man to fly nonstop across the Atlantic in late May of 1927. And that was just the beginning. Babe Ruth was beginning his quest to break the home run record, which he would do later that year with sixty. The first true “talking picture,” The Jazz Singer featuring Al Jolson, changes the movie industry forever. The Great Mississippi Flood that caused widespread disaster and panic that affected over 700,000 people. Al Capone continues his empire with a string of murders and corruption. And the stage is set for the Great Depression.

This is a year that changed the world and Bill Bryson captures every event, the people involved, and the strange occurrences with a drop of humor, an eye for detail, and his ability to tell a deft and moving story. Reading Bryson’s latest book is like sitting down at the table with you favorite uncle and a few of his friends. You know the ones that know a little bit about everything, have met everyone, and love telling a good story. Bryson introduces us to every event, every person, and everything that was of interest or weirdness for that year ranging from baseball to flights to fights to gangsters and more. Even better is that Bryson ties everything together. You’ll see connections that you never though about before, pieces that fit just right in the course of this book.

There are just so many different stories that you could tell from this book, so many things that changed. I could write for pages and never be able to tell everything, even the favorite parts. But, for everything that happened though, Lindbergh is at the heart of this book. His flight kicked off this amazing year and created a firestorm throughout the world. His flight, his story, introduces us to media frenzy’s, sparked innovations in the aviation industry among others including the movies, and more. Bryson expertly weaves all of this together expertly, showing us how things are connected and how this summer…this one summer in 1927 catapulted the United States to new heights in the world.

I’ve been a fan of Bryson’s since a friend introduced me to a “Walk in the Woods” and I haven’t regretted a moment since. Being able to reread his books is like talking to an old friend. And reading new ones is like being introduced to another friend in a tight group. If you’re a fan of Bryson, a fan of history…heck it doesn’t matter what you are, pick up this book. You won’t regret it for a moment. 5 out of 5 stars.

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