“Whatever else it was, it was one hell of a summer.”

bryAuthor Bill Bryson admits he only wanted to write a book about baseball. Like the year the Yankees didn’t just win it all, but crushed every opponent on their way there. The year Lou Gehrig hit 17 more home runs than any other player in the league, but was wildly outdone by teammate Babe Ruth. That year was 1927.


But 1927 was also when Charles Lindbergh made his iconic flight and the more Bryson looked into it, and the summer especially, the more he realized he needed to write a different book. One including the great flood, the launch of talking pictures, and the beginning of the end for Al Capone and prohibition – among other things. That book became our choice for Brown Baggers this month: One Summer: America, 1927.


General consensus by Brown Baggers readers on the book was that it was very interesting and informative, if maybe a little lengthy and dense. This made it the perfect book to dip in and out of at leisure, which many readers admitted to doing. Readers found it not nearly as humorous as Bryson’s other works, most notably A Walk in the Woods. Although, they did agree that this book was quite tongue in cheek in parts.


Readers were also surprised to learn about the behaviors and personality quirks of so many notable individuals, including Henry Ford, and Presidents Coolidge and Hoover. Despite having multiple headlining stories, one reader felt Charles Lindbergh was the main focus of the book. Another reader couldn’t believe how easy it was for individuals to influence the government and policy leading to sweeping changes in both prohibition and eugenics.


More Resources:
Find other books by Bryson in the JMRL catalog.
Watch Bryson discuss the book on C-SPAN.
Listen to/read Bryson’s interview with Diane Rehm.
Watch Bryson discuss the book with Waterstone’s.
Read a Q&A Bryson did with The Guardian newspaper.
Read an interview with the author by Barnes and Noble.


Reader Recommendations and Mentions:
Louisiana 1927 (song) by Randy Newman
The Greater Journey by David McCullough
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Brown Baggers will meet again on June 16 at 12pm to discuss Howard’s End by EM Forster.

Don’t forget to participate in our Summer Challenge beginning June 1. More information can be found on our Summer Reading page. Challenge sheets can be picked up at any branch.

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