Featuring a special introduction written for the audiobook edition and read by the author
In Made in America, Bryson de-mythologizes his native land, explaining how a dusty hamlet with neither woods nor holly became Hollywood, how the Wild West wasn't won, why Americans say 'lootenant' and 'Toosday', how Americans were eating junk food long before the word itself was cooked up, as well as exposing the true origins of the G-string, the original $64,000 question, and Dr Kellogg of cornflakes fame.
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"Bryson offers a playfully anecdotal account of the etymology of distinctive words and phrases that help to create a distinctly American English." (Publishers Weekly)
"A treat....Filled with surprises....A literate exploration of why we use, or mangle, our native tongue." (USA Today)
As a native Brit I wondered how interesting a book about American English would be to me. I was also rather concerned about the scope of this book - how on Earth could Bill Bryson fill such a long time with what seemed like such a limited topic?
My concerns on both counts were unfounded. It turns out that most of the Americanisms that Bill Bryson covers in his book are so embedded in British English now that we don't even think of them as Americanisms any more. Interestingly it also works in reverse - many things we think of as Americanisms actually started out in Britain!
On the second count, Bill Bryson does far more than just list words that are Americanisms and research their origins. He puts them in their cultural context, and indeed in some ways this book is more of a history of America told through the development of its language. Indeed, at some points the link between the topic being covered and the development of American English is distant to say the least.
Despite its considerable length, this book kept my interest throughout. The only issue I can really highlight is that it does get a bit confusing sometimes when words are being spelt out, but this happens only occasionally and is not a serious issue. Apart from this, the narration is brilliant and adds to what is already an excellent book.
All in all, a highly recommended book.
As with all Bill Bryson, he does not just take you, in this case on an adventure of the formation of language in America, but brushes on the expansive history of America and the world, yet does not drift into irrelevancy. His ridiculously well written book gives you the history of 1,000's of words and cleverly places them into a relevant context.
My *only* complaint is that when the reader, (who reads fantastically) spells words out, I find it rather hard to keep up, the book obviously being primarily written for print. However this is infrequent and I suggest that this is based on my own faults, and should not stop you from buying this fantastic book.
I enjoyed this book but it was very annoying in places with constant lists of words but even more tedious was listening to lists of individual words being spelt out. The facts in the book were vaguely interesting but not so interesting that you would bother relaying the fact to anyone else or bringing it up in conversation. Overall a bland book, wellr esearched but not a page turner.
Another excellent book by Bryson, but the topic makes it particularly unsuitable for audio. As much of the book is about the evolution of words and their spellings, this is hard to convey by audio with many words having to be spelt out without the benefit of visual appreciation.
I greatly enjoyed Bryson's journey through US history via its changing language. The book seemed well researched and informative and the narration jolly and humorous.
After 3 hours of listening to the admirable narrator pronouncing a series of words and then pronouncing them slightly differently I gave up on the promises made by other reviewers of fascinating history of the US and put this one down to experience. If its a broad survey of US history you are after then try the Empire of Liberty series. However, if its 20 hours of how the early pilgrims pronounced bound as band and other such fascinating pieces of information then this is the one for you.
Anyone who loves language and fancies themselves an arm-chair historian will absolutely love this book. Wonderfully read by William Roberts. Download it NOW!
Having read the print version a few times - it's a mine of fascinating facts for a history / culture / linguistics nerd! - I hoped this would translate to audio as well as other "written Bryson / narrated Roberts" books would, but unfortunately there's just too much information for it to really work as an audiobook. With a good editor / abridger, this could be condensed into a much more listenable 6-10 hour book rather than 18 hours of struggle (which, I'm sorry to say, I gave up on)
Bill Bryson is a first-rate story teller, bringing history to life with rich insights and perspective. Also, it should be noted that William Roberts's narration is so good that you don't notice it's there and I say that as the highest compliment.
"Bryson Not Reading Makes For a Rare Fail"
Bill Bryson is both a great writer and reader. His books have been a high point in my time here at Audible, but the William Roberts doesn't get Bryson's pacing or timing and as a result much of the humor is lost. If Audible could get a rerecord, I would recommend this, but I would suggest not downloading it and reading it on paper or digital over this performance.
"so many mispronunciations"
Bill Bryson ALWAYS tells a fascinating story but the reader, William Roberts, should have had some guidance how to pronounce MANY place names. It became increasingly irritating. Too bad Bryson did not read it himself. He's a fine reader/
"Where oh where is Bill?"
I love (almost) everything Bill Bryson writes, especially A Brief History of Nearly Everything. More recently, Shakespeare was good but not great. I am now only through the FIRST chapter (of six) in this book, Made in America, and it is horrible. At least half of this chapter is a repeat of Bryson's etymology lessons in Shakespeare, and the rest is like someone literally reading from a dictionary.
This book is (so far) devoid of the meandering but amusing "yarns" of which Bryson typically makes good use. This book is bland, repetitive, shallow and lacks any coherent overarching story upon which to hang what feels like a Google look-up of a list of words.
Mr. Roberts tone was flat and uninteresting. It is neither pleasant, nor does it convey any emotion as to better inform the reader when something of excitement is going on. Admittedly in this book there seems to have been no such excitement, but I expected more. I miss Bill Bryson's voice narrating, and Mr. Roberts was notably bland.
I would be thrilled to learn my purchase bought Mr. Bryson a drink or fine meal. Given how poor this book has been, he owes me one.
Come back to us Bill Bryson. We miss you.
"Bryson OK Roberts not so much"
I just started to listen but one thing is very clear to me,Bill Bryson needs to read his own books. The narrator doesn't make me want to keep listening but I will.
It is basically Bill Bryson's latest formula book. A fair amount of interesting stuff but no plot or any real coherent theme. A fair amount of information on word origins but really just another book of Bryson's somewhat humorous thoughts. Not nearly as good as his older books. The reader is not as good as Bryson as he does not seem to grasp the intended humor of what he is reading.
"just not the same when Billy doesn't narrate"
Chock full of the most amusing trivia about America. Sadly, after getting used to Bryson as narrator, change is tough.
Not a knock on Will Roberts, who is a great narrator.
"Made In America"
A fantastic listen as it is very well written and read. The anecdotes and historical context to the subject matter are very interesting. I loved it and would definitely recommend it.
"Bill Bryson's evil twin wrote this book"
I'm so glad I didn't stumble on this book as my first Bryson. What a nasty, arrogant, bigoted, nasty (did I already say nasty?), smarmy man wrote this book. If this had been my first Bryson book I would never have bought another.
Bryson, originally from Iowa, came back to America after two decades living in England and decides to drive around. Everything he sees, and everywhere he goes disappoints him. Food is greasy, gooey blobs that squirt all over him. Towns are drab, dreary, or filled with tourist attractions that are overpriced and not at all good.
Bryson tells us about his father and mother driving him and his siblings around when they were young. Bryson's father is a dolt going to the worst of the worst state parks and attractions along their trips. Bryson even manages to make his mother, a saintly woman who never criticizes Bill, into a stupid woman and a doormat. If I were Bryson's family and read this book, I would have told Bill to never get within 500 miles of the family and to change his name so no one would know they are related.
Don't like the tone of this review? That's because I just finished the audio book and I've got his nasty attitude ringing in my ears.
Unlike most of the Bryson books I've read, where Bill is the narrator, this book is narrated by William Roberts. Roberts sounds like a cross between a carney huckster and a school yard bully. I kept thinking that most of the nastiness would have been ameliorated had Bryson been the narrator. ... But I doubt it. Williams does nothing to make the book less nasty. But I suspect he was reflecting the nasty attitude in the book.
Read any other Bryson book written after 2000. Bill's a much nicer man then.
"Couldn't have a better narrator"
I'm not sure why so many people dislike William Roberts as the narrator for this book. His take on the book seems so similar to Bill Bryson's narration of his other books, I tended to forget it wasn't Bryson.
Meticulously researched and written, if you are interested in linguistics and the history of words specifically in America, there is no better author to tackle it than Bill Bryson. I would recommend the audible version for the pronunciations, but keep the print book handy as well.
"Made in America misses mark without Bryson's narration"
No, I would recommend purchasing a print copy.
As in most of Bill Bryson's audio books it's his narration that brings the book to life and makes the listening experience so much more enjoyable. William Roberts narration is fine, but as other reviewers mentioned he doesn't "get" Bryson's timing and cadence. Although Made in America is not my most liked Bryson book (my personal favorites being At Home and The Short History of Nearly Everything) I did appreciate the history, trivia and story telling of the book. I'll keep my fingers crossed that Bryson might give us an abridged version of Made in America in the near future.
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