Tuesday, April 29, 2014

One Summer: America 1927

by Bill Bryson
528 pgs

I don't know what it is about Bill Bryson and his writing style, but if he were to write a history of mountaineering in Kansas, I have no doubt that I'd read it, and enjoy it. Some of his books, especially his memoirs, are laugh-out-loud funny but all of them are both interesting and entertaining. In each of his historical books, Bryson displays a remarkable knack for finding the hidden gems of historical facts, like coincidental connections that tie key events to each another, which add a layer of enjoyment to his history lessons--a lesson that every history teacher I ever had could have taken benefited from.

In One Summer Bryson takes a very short period in America's history and shows how pivotal and influential it turned out to be, not just to America, but to the whole world. The summer began with Charles Lindbergh's historic non-stop flight from New York to Paris, a trip that captivated the world for months to come, and that heralded in the age of air travel. It was the summer that Babe Ruth broke his own home run record by hitting 60, a record that stood for 34 years, and which was broken by Roger Maris who had ten more games and 50 more at bats in his season than Ruth did in his. It was the summer that the four most influential bankers on earth met in secret and made a fateful decision, one which a couple of years later led to the stock market crash of 1929. It was the summer the movie The Jazz Singer, the first of the "talkies" was released and the summer that television was created. That one short summer established America's place as the world leader it would be for decades to come and guaranteed its supremacy in so many important aspects of life for generations.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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