One Summer: America 1927 is historian Bill Bryson’s newest number one bestseller. In this fascinating book, he writes of the summer in which ‘America came of age and changed the world for ever’. The book’s blurb states that he masterfully ‘spins a tale of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy’. The Observer believes it to be ‘surely the most sublime distraction published this year’, and upon reading it, one cannot help but to agree.
As the book’s blurb states, an incredible amount of events occured from the May to September of 1927 in the United States, many of which were wonderful advances for the age, and the majority of which we still use and rely upon today: ‘It was the summer that saw the birth of talking pictures, the invention of television, the peak of Al Calpone’s reign of terror… and an almost impossible amount more.’ It is an incredibly interesting year to focus such a work of non-fiction upon, and it is nigh on impossible to be bored at any point whilst reading it.
As with all of Bryson’s books, One Summer: America 1927 grips from the very beginning: ‘On a warm spring evening just before Easter 1927, people who lived in tall buildings in New York were given pause when wooden scaffolding around the brand-new Sherry-Netherland Apartment Hotel caught fire and it became evident that the city’s firemen lacked any means to get water to such a height’. He goes on to encompass Charles Lindbergh, the murder of art editor Albert Snyder in his own home, reading in America, the rise of the tabloid newspaper, the problems the presidency faced, how American baseball legend Babe Ruth was spotted, and how Henry Ford built up his empire, amongst many other interesting elements.
Bryson has written an extensive prologue and epilogue in One Summer: America 1927, and has also included a vast bibliography and well-considered list for further reading suggestions. Such a lot has been taken into account throughout. One event is linked to the next so well, and the whole is really a joy to read. Bryson presents history as it should be; accessible, and incredibly gripping. One Summer: America 1927 is sure to delight history nerds everywhere.
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