The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid: Travels Through my Childhood

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Bill Bryson on his most personal journey yet: into his own childhood in America's Mid-West.

Subject: Memoirs
The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid: Travels Through my Childhood, Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson's first travel book opened with the immortal line, ‘I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.' In this deeply funny and personal memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, in the curious world of 1950s Middle America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout. This is a book about one boy's growing up. But in Bryson's hands, it becomes everyone's story, one that will speak volumes – especially to anyone who has ever been young.

Available Formats

  • Paperback
    $24.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9781784161811
    Published: 04/01/2016
    Imprint: Black Swan
  • eBook
    ISBN: 9781409095781
    Published: 01/05/2010
    Imprint: Transworld Digital
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    $35.00 RRP
    ISBN: 9780552153652
    Published: 01/09/2006
    Imprint: Corgi Audio
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"A wittily incisive book about innocence, and its limits, but in no sense an innocent book... Like Alan Bennett, another ironist posing as a sentimentalist, Bryson can play the teddy-bear and then deliver a sudden, grizzly-style swipe... might tell us as much about the oddities of the American way as a dozen think-tanks" - Boyd Tonkin, Independent

"A funny, effortlessly readable, quietly enchanted memoir... Bryson also provides a quirky social history of America... he always manages to slam on the brakes with a good joke just when things might get sentimental" - Daily Mail

"Characteristic mixture of bemused wit, acerbic astonishment and sweet benevolence... Evocation of an era is near perfect: tender, hilarious and true" - The Times

"Outlandishly and improbably entertaining... inevitably [I] would be reduced to body-racking, tear-inducing, de-couching laughter" - The New York Times

"Seriously funny" - The Sunday Times

"Hilarious... not your typical travel writer" - Sunday Telegraph

"Funny, wise, learned and compulsive" - GQ

"Not only hilarious but also insightful and informative" - Independent on Sunday

"Always witty and sometimes hilarious... wonderfully funny and touching" - Literary Review

Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson's bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent and Notes From A Small Island, which in a national poll was voted the book that best represents Britain. Another travel book, A Walk in the Woods, has become a major film starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson. His new number one Sunday Times bestseller is The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes From a Small Island.

His acclaimed book on the history of science, A Short History Of Nearly Everything, won the Royal Society's Aventis Prize as well as the Descartes Prize, the European Union's highest literary award. He has written books on language, on Shakespeare, on history, and on his own childhood in the hilarious memoir The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid. His last critically lauded bestsellers were At Home: A short history of private life, and One Summer: America 1927

Bill Bryson was born in the American Midwest, and now lives in the UK. A former Chancellor of Durham University, he was President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England for five years, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society.

Bill Bryson was born in 1951 in Des Moines, Iowa, and grew up there, but spent most of his adult life in Britain. He worked for the Bournemouth Evening Echo, Financial Weekly and The Times, and was one of the founding journalists on the Independent. His books include Mother Tongue and Troublesome Words (revised edition, 2001), both published by Penguin, and the travel books The Lost Continent, Neither Here Nor There, Notes from a Small Island, A Walk In The Woods, Notes from a Big Country and Down Under. He now lives in the United States with his wife and four children.