Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid; A Memoir

This book has been recommended by many friends and was my book clubs third  reading choice.  I didn’t read it then because I was busy reading other stuff!  I kept putting it off…then when Bibliophile By The Sea presented the Reading off my Shelves Project; this book made my list!  After reading Dreamland by Dessen I need a change of pace.  Jenners from Find Your Next Book Here highly recommended this choice so I picked it up and read it. 
I liked it far more that I thought I would…I’m not a huge fan of memoirs.  It made me think and laugh and I really enjoyed the historical time-travel aspect of Des Moines history.  I felt transported back to the 1950’s; a serene and innocent era of our history.  
Here’s one of the many “expand my knowledge” parts:
“Often, all that was necessary to earn America’s enmity, and land yourself in a lot of trouble, was to get in the way of our economic interests.  In 1950, Guatemala elected a reformist government-"’the most democratic Guatemala ever had,’ according to the historian Howard Zinn-under Jacobo Arbenz, an educated landowner of good intentions.  Arbenz’s election was a blow for the American company United Fruit, which had run Guatemala as a private fiefdom since nineteenth century.  The company owned nearly everything of importance in the country-the ports, the railroads, the communications networks, banks, stores, and some 550,000 acres of farmland-paid little taxes, and could count confidently on the support of a string of repressive dictators.” p. 133
He proceeds to inform how United Fruit took care of Jacobo Arbenz.  I loved learning these horrible historical facts  and thought Bryson did an amazing job of researching facts about this time period.  He discussed how  the Atomic Age impacted our lives-the fall-out (in my opinion) is something we are dealing with still!!  Mixed in with all these facts are humorous stories (like the toity jar, p. 19), hysterical looks at his family life and the greater world around him.  I loved the part about his paper route as I had brothers who suffered through the paper route ordeal and having to collect money from neighbors!  Bill Bryson's website-click here.
As per Project I need to let you know where this one is going-I'm sending it to my brother in Denver, CO, who attended Drake University.  I think he will enjoy Bryson's wit as well as the history of the city.

Highly Recommended/Memoirs
4/5 stars
Happy Reading!!!


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Loved it Love it Loved it - the audio was read by Bryson and was terrific.

glad u liked it too!

Jenners said...

I'm glad you liked it. And one of the things I enjoy most about Bryson is how you end up learning while being entertained. My dad read this book and got a lot more out of it than I did because he grew up at about the same time and could relate to more aspects of the book. I hope you continue on with Bryson ... he is a really fun and interesting writer.