One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson

This was our January book club choice. Our book club is run through the library, so we only choose books if there are enough of them in the library system to get everyone a book. This was from a list of “book in a bag” books the library keeps just for book clubs. We chose it based solely on the name – thought we might like to read about some summer weather in the middle of winter.

Published: 2013

Genre: nonfiction history

Length: 456 pages of story, 509 pages total

Setting: primarily the U.S. in 1927

Summary: Bryson relates the events of 1927 between May and September. During that time, he focused on several key events, including the attempts to cross the Atlantic ocean by plane, Babe Ruth’s home run record chase, boxing, Prohibition, the actions (or lack thereof) of the President, and several prominent court cases. Bryson also brings up many famous Americans, like Henry Ford and Al Capone, and integrates their stories into the narrative. We also see the development of radio, television, and the movie industry.

Final thoughts: It’s an interesting book, but it felt like homework to read. The book just kept going. We’d check in with Babe Ruth of Charles Lindberg, and then go off to learn about what’s happening with the stock market, and then we’d swing around to Coolidge and Hoover, and off to the impacts of Prohibition. In some respects, it was a comforting book to read because all the political and economic messes we’re in today were reflected in the events of 1927. Even things like the tabloids and celebrity culture were part of American life in 1927. So, it’s not like the situation is new. But, at the same time, it’s kind of depressing. I kind of thought we might have grown out of some of those behaviors in nearly 100 years. But no such luck.

This book wasn’t nearly as humorous as some of his other books. I also got irritated at his habit of ending a section by hinting about how things would soon be different from what was described. The constant foreshadowing was annoying.

Title comes from: The time period and physical setting of the book.

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #7 for the year, and an O in my title Reading the Alphabet Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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