So we are treated to discourses on the trial and conviction of renowned and murderous adulterers Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray, Prohibition and the downfall of the gangster chief Al Capone. Bryson ponders the catastrophic weather in the Midwest that year and the response of Herbert Hoover to the biblical floods that followed. And so on and so forth and in greater or lesser detail, according to the author’s whim.
Indeed, this is a long and prodigiously meandering book and Bryson’s ponderous sojourn into the rise, fall and rise again of Babe Ruth and the world of inter-war baseball does rather break the flow. The man is a self-confessed baseball fanatic and the chapter on the subject wavers between interesting and dull. Consequently, you may weary occasionally, as my wife did, and find yourself skipping the odd chapter (as I did). On balance though, One Summer is still an absorbing and informative read.
And also an entertaining one. He is a great humorist and raconteur and I wonder that a dinner or evening in the pub in his company must surely be a fascinating and enjoyable one. Bryson also has a wonderful turn of phrase.
“…he became engaged to a young New York socialite with the unimprovably glorious name of Cosuelo Hatmaker”