Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid by…

The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Bill Bryson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,812180962 (3.88)165
Title:The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:Doubleday (2006), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Bill Bryson
Tags:bill bryson

Work details

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson (2006)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 165 mentions

English (177)  Vietnamese (1)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (180)
Showing 1-5 of 177 (next | show all)
This is Bryson's nostalgic memoir of growing up in the 1950s in Iowa. He uses factual information enhanced with his own memories. I laughed out loud many times, was helpless with laughter a number of times. I sympathized, empathized, agreed, cheered, or took a shocked intake of breath as young Billy's story progressed. Although anyone who grew up in the same era might get a special enjoyment in revisiting their youth, it is not limited to a specific generation or gender; anyone can enjoy this story. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This was an audiobook with an excellent narration by the author and included a short interview at the conclusion. Count me in as a fan. ( )
  VivienneR | Sep 17, 2015 |
The changing times that Bill Bryson lived trough in Des Moines, Iowa. His family, his mates, school, town. Touched with his wit. ( )
  GeoffSC | May 31, 2015 |
24. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (Audio) by Bill Bryson, read by the author (2006, 7:39, ~220 pages in paperback, listened Mar 23-30)

I hope to never read another Bryson again. He reads his books so perfectly that there is no better way to take them in then listen to him read them. At least that is my impression after listening to this, and, recalling from a while back, listening to him read One Summer: America, 1927. It also comes after getting used to his voice and after partially listening to someone else read his A Short History of Nearly Everything.

As for the book itself, it's hardly a memoir, but both much more and much less than that. He uses his childhood in Des Moines, Iowa, born in 1951, to write about 1950's America, and particularly small town America. He'll touch on his own experiences and then break off to the bigger pictures. He, in that Bryson way, makes a charming history that is largely entertaining because of how unnecessary it is, and yet it becomes important here.

Among the pieces of information inside are the peculiar childhood of Katz, and that Bryon's father was one of the great baseball writers of the 1950's and 1960's, maybe the one great writer in the "fly-over" states. There is a bit of baseball in here too, as there was in One Summer, which only makes these books better. ( )
  dchaikin | May 17, 2015 |
A friend recommended this to me when I was looking for something funny to read. This memoir was definitely funny. I howled at some of the anecdotes. I had to put it down and then re-read paragraphs, so I could howl again. I was also drawn to it, because the author and I were both born in 1951 and both grew up in Des Moines. It was fun to recognize department stores and street names. It became less fun after I realized we’d lived in two separate worlds, because I grew up on the black side of town. I had to keep reminding myself to forget that Bryson benefited from all the privileges of being straight, white, male, and upper-middle class. Nevertheless, I love reading about boys. And this boy exemplified the simplicity of a life centered around the quest to touch a naked breast. I related to his desperate longing, although we longed for different things. Occasionally Bryson interrupts his story with a few pages of historical context, a juxtaposition I found off-putting. First, I was completely happily in the mindset of a ten-year-old boy and therefore didn’t want to hear from an adult reporter talking about the Cold War. Second, the author describes the paranoia and racism of the ‘50s with the same tone of voice he uses to joke about spit balls. For the most part, here’s a book that delivers on it’s promise; it’s a nostalgic look at growing up in the ‘50s. Read it when you feel like laughing. Read it if you’re raising a boy and you’re afraid he’s a lost cause, because as much trouble as Bill Bryson got into, he ended up a first class, well-respected, successful writer.
( )
  dawndowney | Apr 18, 2015 |
I listened to this on audio, and I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I have most of Bryson's other books. I think this is partly because I didn't care much for the way Bryson read his own work. He seemed often to put the emphasis on the wrong part of a sentence, thereby sort of deflating some of his humor. It almost felt like he didn't get his own jokes sometimes. (Bryson also sounds nothing at all like I imagined, and while that certainly isn't a criticism, it was distracting.) But the bigger issue was that I got annoyed at the very kinds of hyperbole and exaggeration that usually help make Bryson's stuff so good. Something about the straight-up memoir format, I think, made me wish he had stuck a little bit more to the way things were rather than skewing them for comic effect. I don't know why this should be irritating in this book and not in, say, [A Walk in the Woods], which is also at least partly memoir--maybe it was because Thunderbolt Kid tried to capture a time period (and one with which I have no direct experience) and it was hard to tell which things really were exaggerations. Or it may have been another effect of listening to the book rather than reading it. Perhaps if I could have controlled my own pace, I would have been less annoyed. Still, a lot of good stuff in there, and I did laugh out loud a number of times. I would just recommend reading this one instead of listening to it. ( )
  lycomayflower | Oct 21, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 177 (next | show all)
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson is a memoir of growing up in Iowa, during the 1950's. The memoir was classic fun and an exploration into memories of growing up in the middle of America in the middle of the twentieth century. The book begins with a panoramic point of view on what the 1950's were about, and then Bryson gets closer and closer into his personal life. He masterfully pens his memories of pranks, jobs, candy, sex, politics, main-street, with a well crafted efficacy. So many memories of growing up in Longmont Colorado in the 1970's bubbled up. A fun listen.
Bill Bryson is erudite, irreverent, funny and exuberant, making the temptation to quote endlessly from The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir (Broadway, $25) hard to resist. Bryson interweaves childhood reminiscences seamlessly with observations about 1950s America, evoking a zeitgeist that will be familiar to almost everyone past middle age.
Had he written a purely personal view of his youth and left out the bits explaining how 1950s America was the best country in the world, my chuckles might not so often have given way to groans of annoyance.
added by MikeBriggs | editThe Spectator, Zenga Longmore (Sep 30, 2006)

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bryson, Billprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Diderich, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sibony, JulieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
In memory of Jed Mattes
First words
In the late 1950s, the Royal Canadian Air Force produced a booklet on isometrics, a form of exercise that enjoyed a short but devoted vogue with my father.
You really should never fuck with the Thunderbolt Kid....He had, as he would boast in later years, a pornographic memory.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Abridged versions should not be combined with the full work.   "Parts of this book first appeared in somewhat different form in The New Yorker." T.p. verso
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0767919378, Paperback)

From one of the most beloved and bestselling authors in the English language, a vivid, nostalgic, and utterly hilarious memoir of growing up in the 1950s

Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century—1951—in the middle of the United States—Des Moines, Iowa—in the middle of the largest generation in American history—the baby boomers. As one of the best and funniest writers alive, he is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24-carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. In his case, he ran around his house and neighborhood with an old football jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel about his neck that served as his cape, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and vanquishing awful evildoers (and morons)—in his head—as "The Thunderbolt Kid."

Using this persona as a springboard, Bill Bryson re-creates the life of his family and his native city in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality—a life at once completely familiar to us all and as far away and unreachable as another galaxy. It was, he reminds us, a happy time, when automobiles and televisions and appliances (not to mention nuclear weapons) grew larger and more numerous with each passing year, and DDT, cigarettes, and the fallout from atmospheric testing were considered harmless or even good for you. He brings us into the life of his loving but eccentric family, including affectionate portraits of his father, a gifted sportswriter for the local paper and dedicated practitioner of isometric exercises, and OF his mother, whose job as the home furnishing editor for the same paper left her little time for practicing the domestic arts at home. The many readers of Bill Bryson’s earlier classic, A Walk in the Woods, will greet the reappearance in these pages of the immortal Stephen Katz, seen hijacking literally boxcar loads of beer. He is joined in the Bryson gallery of immortal characters by the demonically clever Willoughby brothers, who apply their scientific skills and can-do attitude to gleefully destructive ends.

Warm and laugh-out-loud funny, and full of his inimitable, pitch-perfect observations, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is as wondrous a book as Bill Bryson has ever written. It will enchant anyone who has ever been young.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:21 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. Using his fantasy-life persona as a springboard, Bryson re-creates the life of his family in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality--a life at once familiar to us all and as far away and unreachable as another galaxy.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 16 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
87 avail.
15 wanted
6 pay10 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.88)
0.5 1
1 9
1.5 6
2 55
2.5 19
3 296
3.5 100
4 546
4.5 66
5 328


3 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 99,705,918 books! | Top bar: Always visible