One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson | Audiobook Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson | Audiobook ReviewOne Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson
Narrator: Bill Bryson
Length: 17 hours and 3 minutes
Published by Random House LLC on 2013-10-01
Genres: 20th Century, History, Popular Culture, Social History, Social Science, United States
Pages: 528
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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A Chicago Tribune Noteworthy BookA GoodReads Reader's ChoiceIn 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.From the Hardcover edition.

Why Did I Listen To This Book?

Remember that whole secret project that I keep going on and on about? Well, the audiobook of One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson and narrated by Bryson as well was a part of that secret project. However, listening to this book did not feel like homework or like some huge requirement or task. Instead, I was beyond excited to listen to Bryson’s latest book given that I have never read any of his books before and that he came highly recommend by quite a few bloggers I read. Suffice to say, I actually enjoyed One Summer: America 1927 the most out of all of the audiobooks I had to listen to for the secret project. There’s just this nice mix of interest, narration, and writing that kept me riveted to the book.

What’s One Summer About?

First off, I have to say, isn’t it kind of neat that a British man would write such a long, fascinating book about one summer in AMERICA. I am sorry for being amused by that. One Summer: America 1927 is about this amazing summer that America went through — all of these huge things were accomplished. We weren’t in the Great Depression yet. There was murder! There was baseball! There was the invention of TV! There was prohibition! There were flappers! Basically, this whole book comes off as all the interesting things your history textbook left out about one summer during the roaring twenties. Like, for real, it makes me sad kids don’t get to go in depth and explore the richness that history has to offer. Instead it’s rush headlong through some interesting stuff and some boring stuff (I would know, my bachelor’s is in social studies education). If only we all had Bill Bryson as our history teacher, you guys. If only.

What Did I Learn?

  • Television was actually invented by a high school student who then got screwed over by RCA. If you invent something, patent it and do not trust big companies.
  • Babe Ruth is LIVING THE DREAM. He is awesome at baseball, a womanizer, and someone I would love to have a beer with. Really, I just thought he was cool.
  • Lou Gehrig was a momma’s boy.
  • It’s amusing to listen to British people explain baseball.
  • This was the summer that baseball caught on like wildfire. Like, it was SOOOOOOOO popular, I cannot even.
  • Herbert Hoover was a total dick.
  • Calvin Coolidge was mad chill.
  • People would put the type of alcohol that you use for medicine into prohibition alcohol and it would cause you to go blind as a way to stop people from drinking.
  • Credit was like the cool new thing — like people bought vacuum cleaners on credit because why not.
  • Charles Lindberg made a solo flight and was like this huge celebrity.
  • This one guy sat on a flagpole for twelve days straight and apparently earned money for that, but then ended up in poverty.

How’s The Narration?

Usually I am not too keen on authors narrating their own audiobooks. However, I think that Bill Bryson does a fine job narrating his book. He actually sounds kind of like a posh American while reading. His voice is interesting, he’s got a good cadence and made me want to listen. I wasn’t like, ugh, a heavy breather, or ugh a slow talker. I quite liked this one and am thinking about checking out Bryson’s other books on audio.

Who Would I Recommend This Audiobook To?

I think that if you are a history buff you need to listen to One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson. Like the official summary says, this book is all about America stepping out and it is awesome. Also, sports fans would also like this as there is so much about baseball. Theoretically, I love baseball, at least movies about baseball and books about baseball. In reality, I cannot sit through a game of it. However, I really loved the Babe Ruth and baseball bits of One Summer: America 1927. Basically if you are similar to me, you will dig this book.

Sum It Up With A GIF:

Essentially Bill Bryson hits this non fiction book about American history right out of the park. Also, the Sandlot forever!

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. April, DO IT. Listen to everything Bryson has ever recorded. I liked this one okay, but his other ones are gold. My favorite is The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. Listen to that, you won’t be sorry.

  2. Glad to see your thoughts on this-my parents both read this and are obsessed. I almost feel like I don’t even have to pick it up because they’ve already told me about all the cool things detailed within!

  3. I love your review (and the audiobook, which I’ve also listened to) – especially your list of what you learned, and the closing GIF, which is perfect! (I found your review while searching for the running time of the audio for my own review, which is finished and will post in the next few weeks.)

    One minor correction, though: Bryson is American, not British. He was born and raised here, and moved to the UK as an adult. His wife is English, though!