Book 20 One Summer: America, 1927

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson fulfills
the “Book on a Subject
I Know Nothing About” for the PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge. I felt the
category called for non-fiction. I usually go to my favorite Erik Larson for
historic books. But for this one, I hit up Bill Bryson and I’m so glad I did.
Thanks to the 2020 Spring Lockdown, I had plenty of time
to read this long history tome. I listened to the audio as I played games on my
phone and/or cross-stitched (a hobby I took up again). The book is read by the author, which can
go either way. Mr. Bryson did a great job.
The volume chronicles happenings, celebrations,
failures, and life in general during that summer. Mr. Bryson reports the events
well with context before and after—the history, politics, pop culture, and even
the weather. He covered so many topics, I may not have enough space to tell all
I learned.
But here goes
Transatlantic flight. We’ve all heard the story of Charles Lindbergh’s flight to
France, but I had no idea of all the other attempts happening at the same time.
Nor did I have a clue about who Lindbergh was, his past, his future with ties
to politics, and the insane stamina he had to make that flight as he did. He
just got in the plane, flew practically blind for forty plus hours, and then
landed, like it was no biggie. The stories of the aviators were amazing.
Baseball. I’m
not a baseball fan. I like the game, like seeing games in person, but I don’t
seek it out. Back in 1986, I knew most of the Met’s starting roster—my dad is a
huge fan. Reading about Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig was so interesting. Seeing the
politics and money involved in the sport. I had no idea how little some players
were paid for months of service. But what a season for the Yankees in 1927. Records
were smashed all over. Fun reading.
The End of the Model T. I know nothing about the
birth of the automotive industry. Learning about the great transition to the
Model A was very interesting. I can’t
imagine a company nowadays pulling what Ford did, in how he managed his
business, worked his employees, and rolled out the new model. (The company would
have sunk in the twenty-first century.)
The Great Flood of the Mississippi. This event spoke
to me especially. But not while I was reading it. (See next week’s blog). It was the largest
river flood in the US to date with hundreds of thousands of people displaced.
The amount of damage the flood caused was unimaginable, but what happened to
the African-Americans who lived in the flood zone was even worse. Many people
were stuck living on levees with little assistance from the government, especially
if you were black. White people were rescued, fed, and coddled. African-Americans
were forced to work to keep the levees safe, to plant crops, and more. Slavery was
alive and well during the flood. It made me sick. Many African-Americans chose
that time to move north to cities like Chicago. (This tied in nicely with the
book Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff who discussed the northern migration
and Jim Crow laws.)
I learned a great deal about American history from
Mr. Bryson. Not all good, but not all bad.

      I give One Summer:
America, 1927
by Bill Bryson Five Babe Ruths (the candy bars)

Comments 2

  • I've loved some of Bill Bryson's books–I need to listen to this one. I will admit that the ones I don't love…I really don't. Even then, though, I admire his subject choices and his approach.

  • This was my second. I think I'll be listening to more! Especially now that I have the time. LOL

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