Ray Bard, the wizard’s publisher, recommended that Wizzo and I
should read this book. As always, Ray hit the bullseye with that advice.
It’s a book without a plot. Just an astounding bunch of trivia about
America in the summer of 1927 that will absolutely rock your world.
You can’t read this book and not talk about it.
Here are 3 brief excerpts:
“Some communities made it illegal to play music by German composers. Iowa, to be on the safe side, outlawed conversations in any language other than English in schools, at church, or even over the telephone. When people protested that they would have to give up church services in their own languages, Governor William L. Harding responded: ‘There is no use in anyone wasting his time praying in other languages than English. God is listening only to the English tongue.'” – Bill Bryson, One Summer, America 1927, p. 165
“A German man in St. Louis who was believed to have spoken ill of his adopted country was set upon by a mob, dragged through the streets tied up in an American flag, and hanged. A jury subsequently found the mob leaders not guilty on the grounds that it had been a ‘patriotic murder.'”
– Bill Bryson, One Summer, America 1927, p. 165
“In California the amount of land given over to growing grapes actually soared in the first five years of Prohibition, from 100,000 acres to nearly 700,000, and that wasn’t because people were suddenly eating a lot of raisins.” – Bill Bryson, One Summer, America 1927, p. 169