May 27, 2014

May 27, 2014

Things I’ve Read: One Summer: America, 1927

Bill Bryson, whose work I’ve discussed before, has a newish book out about the summer of 1927. If that seems oddly specific to you, join everyone else with whom I’ve discussed this book over the past few weeks. Then SUCK IT UP AND DEAL because this book is both fascinating and informative, as I myself strive to be.

In 1927, a whole crapload of stuff was happening, much of which would have Lasting Ramifications. In BuzzFeed list(icle) form, these things would include: 
  • The New York Yankees: Great team or GREATEST team? (Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, et al.)
  • Sacco and Vanzetti
  • Fed Decision sets the stage for the 1929 stock market crash
  • Coolidge quietly gets up to no hijinks; Hoover is neck-deep in hijinks
  • Al Capone: Totally a Thing
  • Lindbergh crosses the Atlantic
  • Ford develops the Model A
  • The original Ponzi scheme
  • The Jazz Singer is released
…AND THAT IS NOT EVEN THE ENTIRE LIST(ICLE).

Though we can argue that other years are of greater significance (I myself am a big fan of 1066), 1927 brought developments in technology, finance, politics, and sport that changed the world. The book discusses them mostly chronologically, going month by month. It also, however, focuses on key personalities—Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, and so on. It goes to show how much was happening that summer that Philo T. Farnsworth is mentioned but briefly and Nucky Thompson NOT AT ALL.

This book is also a good reminder that the days of yore weren’t always so golden. The Mississippi flooded in 1927. It was off-the-chain hot and no one had air conditioning. Europe was stirring fretfully, with some Americans standoffishly regarding it from a distance while others prepared to heil. For every successful Lindbergh, there were a dozen others who literally crashed and burned. Roaring twenties, indeed.

To seal the deal, here are my very favorite trivia bits from this book:
  1. Charles Lindbergh had a secret German family that he kept hidden for DECADES
  2. Warren Harding was totally our worst President, yet you never hear about that any more. I wonder how the Clinton and Bush administrations will look in a hundred years.
  3. Henry Ford tried to start a rubber plantation/New Detroit in Brazil called Fordlandia. It failed miserably.

0 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke: