This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A…

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir (original 2006; edition 2007)

by Bill Bryson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,4602161,203 (3.88)186
Title:The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:Broadway (2007), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:to read

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 186 mentions

English (213)  Vietnamese (1)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (216)
Showing 1-5 of 213 (next | show all)
A truly amazing story of growing up in Des Moines, Iowa in the 1950's. ( )
  jmenzer | Jan 20, 2019 |
This was such a good book. I love his writing style and humour ( )
  Emmie217 | Jun 27, 2018 |
Claims seem somehow unbelievable about the author and his buddies having emptied entire warehouses and rail cars of unguarded beer stock during their young adulthoods in the 1950s. Maybe it's all just a tall tale. Or maybe they stole two or three cases and then got scared away by a security guard. But to say that they were working at it all weekend and nobody got suspicious? Were security guards only invented in the last 3 or 4 decades?
In one chapter the author discusses what it means when he and his friends said "I swear to God" (or strike me dead.)
The author states that he afraid to be struck dead by a thunderbolt.
But he sure asks for it a lot.
I am 11 years younger than him, but I think even growing up in the 1960s, I could sense some of the same things that Bill Bryson was referring to from the 1950s.
Fun to read.
  libraryhermit | Jun 11, 2018 |
I really enjoyed this book. Gave me a really good feel for what it was like to grow up in the 1950's. There are some moments in this book that made me cry I was laughing so hard. His description of trying to use the restroom in a snow suit was worth the price of the book. ( )
  CSDaley | Mar 28, 2018 |
This is an entertaining and competently written book, but it never quite fascinated or delighted me the way Bryson's best work does. Two possible reasons for that:

1. The Dick and Jane era of America's history is already copiously documented in popular culture. A good two thirds of the anecdotes here seem like deleted minor scenes from A Christmas Story. That's not bad, but it's not amazing either.

2. Bryson's combination of linguistic genius and self deprecation works best when he's discovering new things himself, as in Short History of Nearly Everything, Shakespeare, Walk in The Woods, Sunburned Country. Here, Bryson does his best to make the things he knows all too well also interesting to us. It doesn't always quite work. ( )
  mrgan | Oct 30, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 213 (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
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

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 17 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.88)
0.5 1
1 13
1.5 6
2 57
2.5 19
3 336
3.5 105
4 611
4.5 74
5 360

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 131,746,750 books! | Top bar: Always visible