With a focus of the events of the summer of 1927, Bryson provides the reader with an introduction to the historical events that shaped the 1920s. All the major players are here; Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Sacco and Vanzetti, Al Capone, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. Thrown into the mix were lesser known names, like Jack Dempsey the prize fighter, Andrew Kehoe who perpetrated what is still the deadliest attack on a school in U.S. history, Harry Laughlin the Superintendent of the Eugenics Record Office, and the railroad barons the Van Sweringen brothers.
As a lover of history, I was really thinking that this might be the Bryson for me. I was wrong. Bryson spent 50% of the book focused entirely on Lindbergh. The reader was treated to minute by minute updates on the tedium of his US tour following his historic trans-Atlantic flight. If I wanted to read a biography of Lindbergh, I could hardly have selected a better book. Of the remaining 50%, about half that was spent on Babe Ruth with the remaining 25% indiscriminately and randomly tossed facts at you about a large host of people. Even the epilogue was mostly concerned with Lindbergh. Here we get an in depth look at his post 1927 life while each of the remaining subjects gets about two to three rapid fire sentences.
It was this lack of balance that ultimately dragged this book down for me. It is obviously very well researched, and I liked the month by month format, but the book really needed a more even handed approach to make it work. I have to wonder if this book even made it to an editor, because surely a good editor would have seen and fixed this glaring problem.
I was, however, thankful for the lack of what Bryson calls humor, as I find him not funny in the slightest. After two books by Bryson, both of which only received 2 stars from me, it is clear that he is not my cup of tea. That said he picks such interesting topics, and I have at least two other books by him on my to be read list. Perhaps I should remove them, but sadly I imagine I will end up reading and not liking those as well.