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Down Under by Bill Bryson
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Down Under (original 2000; edition 2001)

by Bill Bryson

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6,389160605 (3.97)167
Member:floriferous
Title:Down Under
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:Black Swan (2001), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:non fiction, read

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In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson (2000)

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English (152)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (158)
Showing 1-5 of 152 (next | show all)
Australia is a terrifying and wonderful place. At least, that's the conclusion I came to after reading Bryson's hilarious travel narrative about his exploration of the country/continent (it's complicated). I knew Australia was huge, deadly, and endlessly fascinating, but I did not know the extent of any of these things until I read this book. It made me want to pack my bags and go on my own adventure across the country, even though I hate the heat, am terrified of bugs, and have next to no backpacking or camping skills.

Bryson writes about Australia with obvious love and reverence, and is quick to point out all the quirky charms that make the place great. I feel like I would love traveling with him, since we both share a fondness for seemingly boring novelty museums and kitschy tourist traps. He traveled through the big cities, like Sydney, but also explored the barren and lonely outback, where you can drive on the same stretch of highway for thousands of miles and literally not see anything but the flat desert land around you (I can't even fathom that, being from California). But Bryson somehow makes it all seem beautiful, which I love. He also delves into the strange, and often hilarious, history of the founding and exploration of Australia. Another thing I liked was his discussion on the Aboriginies, the indigenous people of Australia, who unfortunately have been virtually ignored in history books, media, policy, etc. not only in Australia but everywhere else in the world. However, I am lowering my grade for this book by half a star because I think this topic deserved a whole chapter or two instead of a few pages here and there (and because Bryson took a few too many jabs at overweight people, which I thought was in poor taste).

I have the edition with the added appendix on the Sydney Olympics, which was pretty interesting. Everything seemed to go extraordinarily well, especially when you consider the Winter Games that just happened in Sochi...

All in all, a very entertaining and humorous book that shows what a fascinating place Australia is. I'm excited to read more of Bryson's stuff. ( )
1 vote kaylaraeintheway | May 1, 2014 |
I enjoyed this book enormously. Although I had read quite a bit about Australia previously, I learned a huge amount about what it would actually be like to travel around its vast distances and spend time there. Bill Bryson is informative but also of course very funny in places. The few pages in which he reflects on cricket had me literally weeping with laughter. Highly recommended. ( )
  Matt_B | Mar 4, 2014 |
Hugely funny! I'm glad he did the traveling for me. Wonderful writer. Great wit. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
3.5 stars.

This book follows Bryson as he travels around Australia.

It was good, but this was the audio book (my first audio book), and I’m fairly certain I would have liked it more if I’d read it as a real book. As a result, my review is almost as much reviewing an audio book, as it will review this particular book. I found I got distracted fairly easily – depending what I was doing as I listened – and so I ended up missing things. It was more effort than it was worth most of the time to back up and try to find where I was when my mind first wandered.

Back to the book – Bryson adds a lot of history and interesting tidbits of information along the way as well. He did go to some interesting places, and he is humourous in his writing. Overall, I guess I enjoyed it, but it’s just too hard to separate the book from the audio. ( )
  LibraryCin | Feb 11, 2014 |
Pleasant and mildly entertaining. I was surprised to hear many of the topics in the book (e.g., dissolution of the government by the queen's representative in the 1970s) surface in ordinary conversations with Australians during my trip. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 152 (next | show all)
Boisterous and contagious, Bryson’s writing is a constant affectionate tease aimed at prodding the reader as much as the society and place that he is describing. Bryson loves Australia and he wants you to share his enthusiasm for it. Wherever Bryson is: gaping at a giant stuffed lobster on the roadside in the middle of the Australian outback, cursing himself as he tries to snorkel unsuccessfully in the Great Barrier Reef, or admiring Sydney’s harbor he writes with a love and a ruthlessness that only a sibling or best friend would dare to use.
added by mikeg2 | editYale University, Noam Schimmel (Jun 10, 2001)
 

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bill Brysonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davids, TinkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gower, NeilIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To David, Felicity, Catherine, and Sam
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Flying into Australia, I realized with a sigh that I had forgotten again who their prime minister is.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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published in Britain as "Down Under"
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Book description
The author of "A Walk in the Woods" now chronicles his exploration of Australia. This good-humoured traveller relates his outback adventures with anecdotes
about the history and local inhabitants. Describes the harsh terrain and hostile wildlife including crocodiles, poisonous snakes, and attacking seashells.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0767903862, Paperback)

Bill Bryson follows his Appalachian amble, A Walk in the Woods, with the story of his exploits in Australia, where A-bombs go off unnoticed, prime ministers disappear into the surf, and cheery citizens coexist with the world's deadliest creatures: toxic caterpillars, aggressive seashells, crocodiles, sharks, snakes, and the deadliest of them all, the dreaded box jellyfish. And that's just the beginning, as Bryson treks through sunbaked deserts and up endless coastlines, crisscrossing the "under-discovered" Down Under in search of all things interesting.

Bryson, who could make a pile of dirt compelling--and yes, Australia is mostly dirt--finds no shortage of curiosities. When he isn't dodging Portuguese man-of-wars or considering the virtues of the remarkable platypus, he visits southwest Gippsland, home of the world's largest earthworms (up to 12 feet in length). He discovers that Australia, which began nationhood as a prison, contains the longest straight stretch of railroad track in the world (297 miles), as well as the world's largest monolith (the majestic Uluru) and largest living thing (the Great Barrier Reef). He finds ridiculous place names: "Mullumbimby Ewylamartup, Jiggalong, and the supremely satisfying Tittybong," and manages to catch a cricket game on the radio, which is like

listening to two men sitting in a rowboat on a large, placid lake on a day when the fish aren't biting; it's like having a nap without losing consciousness. It actually helps not to know quite what's going on. In such a rarefied world of contentment and inactivity, comprehension would become a distraction.

"You see," Bryson observes, "Australia is an interesting place. It truly is. And that really is all I'm saying." Of course, Bryson--who is as much a travel writer here as a humorist, naturalist, and historian--says much more, and does so with generous amounts of wit and hilarity. Australia may be "mostly empty and a long way away," but it's a little closer now. --Rob McDonald

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:35 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

The author takes readers on a tour of the land Down Under that goes far beyond packaged-tour routes.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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