The veteran travel writer Bill Bryson’s latest outing takes readers not just to a geographic destination but also to a different time. The year is 1927 and the place is America.
Bryson’s meticulously researched 496-page tome takes in Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight across the Atlantic; the release of the first “talkie” – black-faced Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer; the infamous Ruth Synder murder case, which inspired the film Double Indemnity; the baseball legend Babe Ruth’s record 60 home runs; the execution of the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti; Warren G Harding’s spectacularly dull presidency; and the gangster Al Capone’s stranglehold on the city of Chicago. And there’s a great deal more in between as Bryson explores the highways and byways of life in the flapper era.
Written in his trademark warm, engaging style, One Summer: America, 1927 is an enjoyable light read for anyone interested in US history, but fans of Bryson’s travel books may find themselves missing the days when he actually left the house (and indeed the continent) to do his research.