From one of the most beloved and bestselling authors in the
English language, a vivid, nostalgic and utterly hilarious memoir of
growing up in the middle of the United States in the middle of the last
century. A book that delivers on the promise that it is laugh-out-loud
Some say that the first hints that Bill Bryson was not
of Planet Earth came from his discovery, at the age of six, of a
woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the moth-holed chest was a
golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football
sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred
Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous
family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns
out of peoples hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his
jeans in the manner of Superman.
Bill Brysons first travel book
opened with the immortal line, I come from Des Moines. Somebody had
to. In this hilarious new memoir, he travels back to explore the kid
he once was and the weird and wonderful world of 1950s America. He
modestly claims that this is a book about not very much: about being
small and getting much larger slowly. But for the rest of us, it is a
laugh-out-loud book that will speak volumes especially to anyone who
has ever been young.
Part memoir, part social history, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is a hoot. Bryson describes his idyllic childhood growing up in the middle of the USA, in the middle of the last century, in the middle of the baby boom years - a time of unprecedented prosperity for the country as a whole, quite different to the depression-era experiences of the previous generation; but it's not all rose-tinted glasses - the threat of nuclear war, Joe McCarthy, and America flexing its muscles overseas all come into the picture. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The book is held together by sheer force of personality-but when you've got a personality as big as Bryson's, sometimes that's enough.
School Library Journal
Students of the decade's popular culture will marvel at the insular innocence described, even as the world moved toward nuclear weapons and civil unrest. ....His reminiscences will entertain a wide audience.
A great, fun read, especially for Baby Boomers nostalgic for the good old days.
Booklist - Laura Tillotson
This affectionate portrait wistfully recalls the bygone days of Burns and Allen and downtown department stores but with a good-natured elbow poke to the ribs.
The larger world of 1950s America emerges through the lens of "Billy's" world, including the dark underbelly of racism, the fight against communism, and the advent of the nuclear age.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Riley Moyer Souped-Up Childhood Memoir Bill Bryson's novel offers great insight into the reality of growing up in the 50's. It combines the story of the imaginary figure, the Thunderbolt Kid and the story of the real figure, Bryson into a souped-up childhood memoir. During the postwar... Read More
While many in the USA experienced an unprecedented economic boom in the
1950s, what was happening elsewhere?
Europe: The division of Europe into West and East persisted.
The foundations for the European Community were laid. Rationing continued
in some Western countries (e.g. in Britain up until 1953), but post-war
reconstruction was booming, due to the Marshall Plan (a four year plan
instigated in 1947 during which about $13 billion of economic and technical
assistance was given by the USA to certain European countries. At
the end of the four years, the economies of every participating country except
Germany had exceeded their pre-war levels.
The Middle East: The increasing importance of oil gave an economic boost
to many Middle Eastern countries, but the ruling elite were the main ones to
benefit. The fledgling state of Israel spent most of the decade in a
'state of austerity' as it tried to accommodate the approx. 250,000 Holocaust
This witty and lovingly told memoir takes readers back to a time when small-town America was caught in the amber of the innocent postwar period--people helped their neighbors, went to church on Sunday, and kept barnyard animals in their backyards.
A memoir of culture and history of fathers and daughters, of two world wars
and the passionate rebellions of the sixties. It is also about the mythology of
place and the evolution of a sensibility: and about how literature can shape and
even anticipate a life.
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