Review: De zomer van 1927, Bill Bryson

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review*
De zomer van 1927, Bill Bryson
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.

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer. He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire. He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.

Bill Bryson is the go to author if you want to start reading non fiction but are not sure if you will like it. He has a way of putting facts in a book that makes you feel you read fiction. One Summer: America 1927 is no different. Telling the story how the United States of America is changing from a country following Europe to a country ruling the world. In only 6 months a lot of life changing things happen on American soil giving the USA the trust to be a nation. Though not all the things will turn out for the best.
The red line in the story is Charles Lindbergh. Flying his Spirit of Saint Louis to Paris in May 1927, by himself, gives a boost to the self confidence of the American people. That summer the radio is being improved. Television is being invented. Al Capone is being the most important figure in Chicago, Calvin Coolidge is a very interesting president and Babe Ruth shows once more why he is a legendary baseball hero. All aspects of these people are shown. The good but also the bad. For one summer you get a lot of information about all the things that happened in the past placing the people in the position they are now. There are short snippets of information on their future too. Add some quirky remarks and there it is One Summer: America 1927.
I really liked reading this book. I never realized how fast the developments went. Born in 1980 *cough* for me the USA is an important player in the world. Probably the most important growing up in a West-European country. I cannot imagine the USA being behind in technology or confidence for that matter. Especially the story of Lindbergh and the race to be the first to cross from Europe to the US or the other way around was interesting.
I do love baseball and I understood the whole Babe Ruth development but as baseball is not a widely recognized sport in the Netherlands I can imagine some people reading the book here might get tired with all the references and terms surrounding it. It was interesting to read about Al Capone from different sources saying he was not as bad or scary as he is often portrayed.

De zomer van 1927
Author: Bill Bryson
Publisher: Atlas Contact
Pages: 544
Format: ARC
ISBN-13: 9789045026374
Original title: One Summer: America 1927
Atlas Contact: Paperback
De zomer van 1927
4 stars

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Jennine G.
07 April, 2014 delete

I do like Bill Bryson. This sounds like a great way to learn about that era. I thought it sounded good when it was coming out.