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Made in America by Bill Bryson

Made in America (original 1994; edition 1996)

by Bill Bryson

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3,426362,285 (3.81)59
Title:Made in America
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:Harper Perennial (1996), Paperback
Tags:non-fiction, language

Work details

Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States by Bill Bryson (1994)


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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
If the author hadn't been Bill Bryson I may not have picked "Made in America" up. This is one of Bryson's lesser works (although his lesser works are still infinitely preferable to many authors' best works), covering how the English language has been shaped by America, from the Pilgrims to twenty years ago, when "Made in America" was published. ( )
  MiaCulpa | Jan 17, 2019 |
This is or seems to be, a long book - stay with it and read in small bits. And it's not just about linguistics. There's a lot of USA history here. And, it's the real history a la Howard Zinn or James Loewen. This is witty, academic Bryson at his best, not cheap, curmudgeonly traveler Bryson. ( )
  Sandydog1 | Dec 24, 2017 |
A very interesting compendium of classic Americana. Highly recommended and certainly not to be missed.
  danoomistmatiste | Jan 24, 2016 |
A very interesting compendium of classic Americana. Highly recommended and certainly not to be missed.
  kkhambadkone | Jan 17, 2016 |
In Made in America Bill Bryson traces the origin of a variety of Americanisms. The chapters are structured in chronological fashion starting with the Mayflower and the beginning of what was to become the United States of America. On its way to present day America, the book touches upon topics such as money and finances, Native Americans and immigration, the concept of the frontier, shopping, food, movies, advertising, the automobile industry, the space race, sex and political correctness.

While the book is overall quite logically structured, a chapter in itself often appears to be a collection of observations that are ordered in anecdotal fashion more than anything else. Bryson seems to have struggled in filtering the information he wanted to use for his book and this makes the reading of some chapters a bit tedious. While there is generally a wide range of information, depth is neglected at some points. This is not to say that Bryson did a bad job in writing the book, but for me, the lack of depth at certain points definitely took away from an otherwise very interesting reading experience.

For someone interested in languages and their development, this book is not a bad choice. As I love the study of languages and as I am very interested in American English Made in America promised to be a great read for me. I have read Bryson before and while I do not agree with him on everything and while I do not always like his humor, I like his books generally very much. However, Made in America was, despite my interest in the topic, just an average read. While some chapters were highly interesting and very well written, others lacked in quality. On the whole, a three star read. ( )
1 vote OscarWilde87 | Dec 5, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bill Brysonprimary authorall editionscalculated
McCall, BruceIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Roberts, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the 1940s, a British traveller to Anholt, a small island fifty miles out in the Kattegat straight between Denmark and Sweden, noticed that the island children sang a piece of doggerel that was clearly nonsense to them.
As Jefferson put it: "The new circumstances under which we are placed, call for new words, new phrases, and for the transfer of old words to new objects".
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0380713810, Paperback)

Readers from Toad Suck, Arkansas, to Idiotsville, Oregon--and everywhere in between--will love Made in America, Bill Bryson's Informal History of the English Language in the United States. It is, in a word, fascinating. After reading this tour de force, it's clear that a nation's language speaks volumes about its true character: you are what you speak. Bryson traces America's history through the language of the time, then goes on to discuss words culled from everyday activities: immigration, eating, shopping, advertising, going to the movies, and others.

Made in America will supply you with interesting facts and cocktail chatter for a year or more. Did you know, for example, that Teddy Roosevelt's "speak softly and carry a big stick" credo has its roots in a West African proverb? Or that actor Walter Matthau's given name is Walter Mattaschanskayasky? Or that the supposedly frigid Puritans--who called themselves "Saints," by the way--had something called a pre-contract, which was a license for premarital sex? Made in America is an excellent discussion of American English, but what makes the book such a treasure is that it offers much, much more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:44 -0400)

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Traces America's history through language & culture.

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