Ome Summer: America 1927, by Bill Bryson
Doubleday (2013), Hardcover, 560 pages
While I finished this book a couple of weeks ago, I decided to include the review here because it’s just a fantastic, absorbing read. Bryson draws in an incredibly diverse collection of events and characters to illustrate one amazing summer in American history. The book is more or less built around Charles Lindbergh and Babe Ruth, and their stories are weaved through events covering politics, cinema, crime and punishment, sport, aviation, economics and natural disaster. Its a roller-coaster ride, as Bryson flits from one to another, frequently swooping off in tangents, but it is endlessly absorbing. Bryson cleverly uses these tangents to illustrate people or events, incidental to the main action, but each forming a piece of the incredible patchwork that makes up this one short period. For example, while waiting for Lindbergh’s plane to reach Paris, the American Ambassador whiles away the time catching some tennis, which allows Bryson to detail the life and career of the great Bill Tilden. The book is full of wonderful little sidebars like this. The research that has gone into this book is formidable, but Bryson refuses to be weighed down by dry fact regurgitation. He simply does not stay in one place long enough to allow the story to get boring. I’ve never read a book quite like this before, but its certainly among the best books I’ve read in recent years. More, please.