Book Review: One Summer by Bill Bryson

Just finished One Summer: America 1927a non-fiction work by Bill Bryson, which as the title implies looks at the U.S. in the summer of 1927.  The subject sounds so narrow and remote that I wouldn’t have read the book except for the fact I’m a big fan of Bryson’s writing and the reviews were fabulous. From page 1 Bryson pulls you in. His research on the book is impeccable and his writing is rich, funny, insightful and captivating. While the window he looks at is the three months of the year, his narrative provides necessary context for the months leading up to and following that summer. There are several main story lines that the author weaves through the 456-page book:  Charles Lindbergh’s successful flight across the Atlantic, Babe Ruth’s 60-home run season, the Great Mississippi River flood, Al Capone’s reign of terror over Chicago, and a couple of others. These story lines are interspersed with interesting bits of information and trivia, such as the story of who invented the Ponzi Scheme, how the term “hot dog” came about, and the origins of Mickey Mouse. The year was filled with larger than life characters. I found the section on President Herbert Hoover to be especially revealing.

Strongly recommended – Five Stars.