In the summer of 1927, America had a booming stock market, a president who worked just four hours a day (and slept much of the rest of the time), a semi-crazed sculptor with a mad plan to carve four giant heads into an inaccessible mountain called Rushmore, a devastating flood of the Mississippi, a sensational murder trial and a youthful aviator named Charles Lindbergh who started the summer wholly unknown and finished it as the most famous man on earth (so famous that Minnesota consider renaming itself after him).
It was the summer that saw the birth of talking pictures, the invention of television, the peak of Al Capone’s reign of terror, the horrifying bombing of a school in Michigan by a madman, the ill-conceived decision that led the Great Depression, the thrillingly improbable return to greatness of a wheezing, over-the-hill baseball player named Babe Ruth and an almost impossible amount more.
In this hugely entertaining book, Bill Bryson spins a story of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy. With the trademark brio, wit and authority that have made him our favorite writer of narrative non-fiction, he rolls out an unforgettable cast of vivid and eccentric personalities to bring to life a forgotten summer when America came of age, took centre stage and changed the world forever.
People in 1920s America were unusually drawn to spectacle, states Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything) in his prologue an unusual claim that his latest, a sprawling account of a brief period in a singular year in that decade, seems to want to substantiate. Whether or not the claim is objectively true, Bryson himself is captivated by the events of summer, 1927. And why not? They included Charles Lindbergh s solo flight over the Atlantic, Sacco and Vanzetti s execution, Gutzon Borglum s start on the sculpting of Mt. Rushmore, the Dempsey-Carpentier fight, and Babe Ruth s 60 home runs all of which Bryson covers in characteristically sparkling prose. These notable happenings are worth relating and recalling, but others have done so, and more authoritatively and fully. Here, there s not much connection between them; a string of coincidents (and there are many of those each day) hardly justify a book. So this isn t history, nor is it really a story with a start, finish, and thematic spine. No analysis, only narrative it s diverting but slight.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Bryson in top form
Almost a time-travel experience to 1927 in Bryson's typical amusing, breezy style. Who knew so much went on that one summer? A great, informative read.
An addicting reading experience. Another great one from Bill!