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October Book Club – One Summer: America 1927

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For our October book club select, we wanted to do something a little new different! While we’ve tackled memoirs, novels and short stories, we’ve never really dug into a non-fiction book. When we found out that Bill Bryson’s newest, One Summer: America 1927, was coming out this week, we couldn’t wait to start in!

From the publisher:

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.

All this and much, much more transpired in that epochal summer of 1927, and Bill Bryson captures its outsized personalities, exciting events, and occasional just plain weirdness with his trademark vividness, eye for telling detail, and delicious humor. In that year America stepped out onto the world stage as the main event, and One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order.

Let us know if you’re picking up a copy and reading along!

Paulie Dibner is the Assistant Managing Editor for Martha Stewart Living. She has perfected her oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, but is on the hunt for a puff pastry recipe to knock her socks off. Follow her on Instagram @matinauxsaules.

Comments (1)

  • Prompted by your wonderful comments, I am off to pick up a copy of this book. Bryson had been a favorite author in years past, but I had overlooked him in a current search for a book to begin. Thanks for the idea!

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