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.
About the Author
Bill Bryson’s bestselling books include A Walk in the Woods, I’m a Stranger Here Myself, In a Sunburned Country, A Short History of Nearly Everything (which earned him the 2004 Aventis Prize), The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, and At Home. He lives in England with his wife.
Praise for One Summer: America, 1927…
“Rollicking, immensely readable. . . . [Bryson’s] subject isn't really a year. It’s human nature in all its odd and amazing array.” —Chicago Tribune
“A wonderful romp . . . . Fascinating. . . . Writ[ten] in a style as effervescent as time itself.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Addictively readable.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Entertaining. . . . Splendid. . . . Sure to delight.” —Newsday
“Marvelous.” —The Huffington Post
“Bill Bryson recounts a remarkable period in America’s passage. . . . [One Summer] captures that fabulous summer—indeed, the entire era—in tone and timbre.” —The Boston Globe
“A lively account of 1927’s events and its cast of characters, both well known and long forgotten. . . . [Bryson] has a keen eye for amusing and arresting tidbits of information.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“The best kind of general-interest book: fun, interesting, and something to learn on every page.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Breezily written, conversational and humorous. . . . [Bryson is] a gifted raconteur.” —The Guardian (London)
“Bryson is a marvelous historian, not only exhaustively accurate, but highly entertaining. If you avoid textbook histories because they seem too dry, pick up One Summer, or any other of Mr. Bryson’s books. They are intelligent delights.” —The Huffington Post
“An entertaining tour through a year of Jazz Age scandal and baseball heroics. . . . Bryson will set you right in this canter through one summer of one year that—once you’ve turned the final page—will seem more critical to American history than you might have reckoned before.” —Financial Times
“One Summer covers an enormous cast of characters that are deeply researched and rendered to entertain. . . . [Bryson] finds the strange trivia and surprising little coincidences that make history fun, and his breezy style and running commentary make for an enjoyable read.” —The Miami Herald
“Exuberant. . . . [Bryson] propels his story forward with enviable skill and inexhaustible verve.” —The Times Literary Supplement (London)
“Per usual, Bryson writes prose as lucid as a pane of glass. . . . A fun walk through the summer of 1927, with all its zaniness.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Has history ever been so enjoyable? . . . Bill Bryson is a true master of popular narrative. . . . With this book, he proves once again that he is able to juggle any number of different balls . . . and create spellbinding patterns while never letting a single one drop. He is wonderfully adept at the nutshell portrait: indeed, he treats the nutshell like a ballroom, conveying a vast amount in a tiny number of words.” —Daily Mail