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Summary

Britain's best-loved comic genius Stephen Fry turns his celebrated wit and insight to unearthing the real America as he travels across the continent in his black taxicab. 

Stephen's account of his adventures is filled with his unique humour, insight and warmth in this beautifully illustrated book that accompanies his journey for the BBC 1 series. 

Stephen Fry has always loved America; in fact he came very close to being born there. Here, his fascination for the country and its people sees him embark on an epic journey across America, visiting each of its 51 states to discover how such a huge diversity of people, cultures, languages, beliefs and landscapes combine to create such a remarkable nation. 

Starting on the eastern seaboard, Stephen zig-zags across the country in his London taxicab, talking to its hospitable citizens, listening to its music, visiting its landmarks, viewing small-town life and America's breath-taking landscapes – following wherever his curiosity leads him. 

Stephen encounters unknown mayors, sheriffs, newspaper editors, park rangers, teachers and hobos, bringing to life the oddities and splendours of each locale. He discovers Oklahoma's World Cow Pat Throwing Contest, attends Independence Day Parades, cherry-pie bake-offs and visits the heartland of the Sioux Nation in South Dakota. A celebration of the magnificent and the eccentric, the beautiful and the strange, Stephen Fry in America is our author's homage to this extraordinary country.

©2012 Stephen Fry (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Stephen Fry is a treasure of the British Empire." (The Guardian)

What listeners say about Stephen Fry in America

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Buck up, Stephen

I normally adore Stephen fry but I found this book rushed, under-researched and insensitive.
In one part Stephen meets some Native Americans and tells the listener not to worry about calling 'them' 'First Nation' as they don't refer to themselves as such, he almost scoffs. I feel like he almost says its policitcal correctness gone mad. Stephen needs research here as 'First Nation' is what Canadian native peoples below the Arctic circle call themselves. Also the implications in the tone is that it doesn't matter what you call people but of course it does. You don't get to decide what a group of people of which you are not a member call themselves, Stephen.

22 people found this helpful

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If you enjoyed the tv series - you’ll really enjoy this

The TV series of Stephen Fry in America was great entertainment and I was pleased to stumble across this audiobook as I hadn’t realised one had been recorded. If you are already a fan of Mr Fry then you will get everything you would expect from his work and perhaps more. Eloquently written and engagingly read by the author the book moves through the states with snippets of facts you may be familiar with and includes many personal stories of ordinary Americans highlighting what their state means to them and how life goes on all across the country. Hugely enjoyable and re-listenable I thoroughly recommend this to anyone with an interest in other countries and cultures, and also to those who just love listening to Stephen Fry’s voice!

11 people found this helpful

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Easy listening travel book

Stephen Fry is a wonderful narrator, which made this book a pleasure to listen to. I learned a few interesting facts, and chuckled and some of the stories he told and turns of phrases he used. It is a little like a memoir of his travels with a few facts about the different states rather than travel guide.

However, the description of the book says he visited various famous people along the way, like George W Bush in Texas, Arnie in California and a number of others. He may well have visited them, and perhaps these scenes were shown in the TV series he made of his travels in America, but they were not featured in the book. I was disappointed by that, but nonetheless I am glad I listened and would recommend to others who would like a nice story told by a relaxing voice.

6 people found this helpful

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Very Stephen

Was a great listen. The state by state chapters allowed bitesize listening, just right for daily walks

6 people found this helpful

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Too bad he ran out of states!

While the TV series may be slightly dated, these audio recollections are fantastic, classic Fry!

4 people found this helpful

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Pleasantly easy

I’ve have been a fan of the tv series so I thought the Audible version was worth a listen and I wasn’t wrong. With more in depth description of his experiences it made for easy listening.

4 people found this helpful

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Fry says he won't be judgmental but he is

I am about 3 hours into the book but but I doubt if I can go much further. It's already obvious that Fry feels very much at home with the ultra rich - on whom he passes no judgment at all. But when it comes to more 'ordinary' people, he has both real and/or imaginary judgmental conversations with them where he is either patronizing, or correcting them for not being as bright as he thinks they should be. There is one city that he thinks would have been best slipping into the sea -with the implication that the residents, not being up to his standard, should have joined it. It wasn't San Fran.

And if you are a republican - you WILL be judged. For example, on the campaign trail, the republican candidate gave Fry full access to his team (who were very welcoming), but the democrat politician wanted nothing to do with him.. Guess which one Fry ridiculed and which he didn't judge in the slightest.

I'm not too keen on those who worship the rich largely for being rich, but let it be clear that they are merely tolerating many of the less fortunate, and can barely tolerate people with different politics.

3 people found this helpful

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amazing like always

Stephen Fry always manages to bind me to a book till the end with his voice and intonation. No matter if it is one of his own books or he is the narrator, not a minute of boredom. I'm looking forward to the next one

3 people found this helpful

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Not as good as the TV show

I don't understand why Stephen Fry needs to shoehorn in the fact that he doesn't agree with any religion just so often. It's really weird. Who cares, I want to know about the states and your experience. He comes across as quite arrogant in the book which I didn't find in the TV show at all.

That being said he has a wonderful audio book voice and there is some enjoyable and useful info in here.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

More reference than narrative

A good overview of 50 states of America, there isn't really a central thread to the book which makes it feel more like a referential book (and you can, as Stephen says in the introduction, flick to any state you like) and the list of state mottos, trees, animals at the beginning of each state/chapter add to the reference style.

Whilst he does say on a couple if occasions that the best way to experience a culture it's through their food he only discusses cuisine in a few states. In addition I found it hard to empathise with Stephen when he was having a miserable time with activities that sounded like a lot of fun.

2 people found this helpful