Monday, March 12, 2007

Book Review..The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid

The Life and Times of The ThunderBolt Kid...Bill Bryson.Broadway Books.268pages.

This book not only focuses on Bryson's early days in Des Moines,Iowa but also looks at 1950s America as it steers its way through the 50s,the Cold War and the early 60s.
Various chapters about his family life are interspersed with chapters dealing with such things as the advent of television,automobiles,nuclear bombs,Cuba and the Soviet Union.
Typical Bryson descriptions of people bring the usual smiles and there are many quotable e.g "She was stooped,very small,forgetful,glacially slow,interestingly maladorous,practically deaf"(pg 178).

He also dispenses lots of facts and figures to show how dominant and prosperous the United States was in the 50s."Americans owned 80% of the world's electrical goods,controlled two-thirds of the world's productive capacity,produced more than 40% of its electricity,60% of its oil and 66% of its steel"(pg 5).
And "In 1951,the average American ate 50% more than the average European"(pg 6)

He fondly recalls what made Des Moines unique, the shops and theatres which today exist only in memory or as carpark lots.
Replaced by chains of supermarkets and malls one can see world-wide.
In summary an entertaining book about a period that seems to me as foreign and distant as Victorian England.

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