I'm a GoodReads user testing new waters after the serious website changes. I mostly read fiction, usually Anglophone classics/ modern classics; I like nonfiction (mostly social and cultural history), good fantasy and graphic novels. For guilty pleasure, I read advice and how-to books. I made at least two reading resolutions recently; 1. read less, live more; 2. read books which give me more pleasure. I have poor filters, and books I find stylistically pleasing tend to be depressing, so I need to do something about that; if you think you know a book that is very well written, but won't make me weep, please drop me a line.

One Summer: America, 1927

One Summer: America, 1927 - Bill Bryson (I initially gave it four stars, then upgraded it to five - I really like this book, and the way it was informative without being overwhelming.)

Towards the end of this book, Bryson describes a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where the Spirit of St Louis (see photo) is displayed, followed by a range of other aircraft developed in the wake of Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic. Looking at a modern Douglas DC-3 (see photo for comparison), 'the first truly modern airliner' developed in 1935 and launched in 1936, Dr Alex M. Spencer, senior curator showing Bryson around, says:

'And this all happened in less than a decade (...) That's what Lindbergh's flight achieved.'
'But wouldn't it have happened anyway?' I ask.
'Sure,' Spencer agrees. 'But it wouldn't have happened so fast and it wouldn't have been so overwhelmingly American.'

And this is largely what the book is about - it shows the events of summer 1927 which turned the Unites States from a rather peripheral place in the eurocentric world into a country of huge technological and cultural consequence.

Still, Bryson is by no means uncritical - he discussed the notorious stealing of one another's ideas, the absurdities and hypocrisies of Prohibition, racism (I had no idea racial segregation affected the Italians to such a degree!) and American fascination with eugenics (the epilogue contains a mindboggling record of Anne Lindbergh's reaction to Kristallnacht pogrom, which coincided with the moment the Lindberghs seriously considered moving to Germany - she seemed to be affected by how 'brutal and undisciplined' it was, but not necessarily by antisemitism itself.

Overall, this is a great read; I love Bryson's ability to represent almost every event as a wonderful coincidence; to sketch further lives of minor historical figures AFTER they became famous of nearly so; of showing how events he presents make people whose stories he describes come together; essentially - of making us care about what happened in the Twenties, and to whom.

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