The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid 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 sBill Bryson was born in the middle of the Ameri

  • Title: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
  • Author: Bill Bryson
  • ISBN: 9780767919364
  • Page: 424
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 1950sBill 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 funniFrom one of the most beloved and bestselling authors in the English language, a vivid, nostalgic, and utterly hilarious memoir of growing up in the 1950sBill 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 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.

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    About " Bill Bryson "

  • Bill Bryson

    William McGuire Bill Bryson, OBE, FRS was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951 He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.In The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson s hilarious first travel book, he chronicled a trip in his mother s Chevy around small town America It was followed by Neither Here Nor There, an account of his first trip around Europe Other travel books include the massive bestseller Notes From a Small Island, which won the 2003 World Book Day National Poll to find the book which best represented modern England, followed by A Walk in the Woods in which Stephen Katz, his travel companion from Neither Here Nor There, made a welcome reappearance , Notes From a Big Country and Down Under.Bill Bryson has also written several highly praised books on the English language, including Mother Tongue and Made in America In his last book, he turned his attention to science A Short History of Nearly Everything was lauded with critical acclaim, and became a huge bestseller It was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, before going on to win the Aventis Prize for Science Books and the Descartes Science Communication Prize His next book, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, is a memoir of growing up in 1950s America, featuring another appearance from his old friend Stephen Katz October 8 sees the publication of A Really Short History of Nearly Everything.


  • I'm a big fan of Bill Bryson's writing, but this one was both uplifting and saddening at the same time. The premise of the book is how Bill learned to see a country be wooed by the siren song of prosperity through the guise of his own internal superhero persona, the Thunderbolt Kid. This is an engaging book which takes the reader back to simpler times, with plenty of Bryson's characteristic laugh-out-loud funny moments to go around. The Thunderbolt Kid persona is really a subtitle to the main id [...]

  • Bryson played my funnybones like a xylophone!The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is about growing up in the '50s. It's the sort of coming of age tale that educates along the way. God, I love this stuff!It very much reminded me of the classic movie "A Christmas Story". Here on , amongst all you worthy readers, I'm ashamed to say I haven't yet read the short stories by Jean Shepherd that the movie is based upon. But if they're anything like the movie then they're filled with remembrances of [...]

  • Welcome to Des Moines, Iowa and the 1950s! There are some things you should be afraid of (mainly Communism, teenagers, and comic books not approved by the Comics Code Authority). But, no need to worry! The Thunderbolt Kid (aka Bill Bryson) will be your trusty tour guide.Ah, the 50s—a time when cigarettes made you healthy, your daily dose of amphetamines came in morning cereal, soda was the elixir of life, and prominent doctors defended a boy's right to be dirty.*In his telltale jocular but inf [...]

  • My first Bryson book. I will be reading more by the author. I enjoy the humor. I spot-checked the validity of the historical details thrown in and found them to be correct. This pleased me. Pseudonyms are used for the characters, except for his agent Jed Mattes. This seems perfectly reasonable. So what kind of book is this? What is it really about? I think the best way to describe it is as a book of snapshots of a kid's life in the fifties in Mid-America, rather than either a biography of Bryson [...]

  • Bill Bryson's travel writing is often hilarious and usually perceptive. In many ways this book – Bryson’s memoir of growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, in the 1950s and 1960s - is also travel writing. In remembering and sharing his past, Bryson takes his readers to another place and time, both of which he vividly evokes in the narrative. I laughed a lot while listening to Bryson read the audiobook version of his memoir. At times I laughed so much that there was a risk my bus commute would be emb [...]

  • This was the start of a definite return to form after a positive dip in the standard of Bill Bryson's books.What Bryson gives us here is all about growing up in 1950's America - largely autobiographical, although with Bryson's usually interesting and entertaining digressions, it's a strong book and a must for all fans of the world and works of Bill Bryson.

  • Book ReviewThe Life and Times of the Thunderbolt KidBy Bill BrysonReviewed by Tom CarricoI am not usually one to enjoy a memoir. There always seems to be a certain smugness that someone must possess to have the audacity to think that their story is better than, well, mine. This memoir, however, is different. Bill Bryson’s childhood ruminations could belong to anybody who grew up in the 1950s. Change Des Moines, Iowa to Arlington, Virginia and this story could even be mine. If you are under 40 [...]

  • Young Bill Bryson always pictured himself as a superhero and in this novel, he is one.The Thunderbolt Kid is a somewhat fictionalized retelling of Bryson's childhood. Interspersing key events (such as the ever-present threat of nuclear war and humorous portrayals of his family) with the heroic efforts of the Thunderbolt Kill. Fun, charming and a bit precocious.

  • the bloody head-bashing-in-storyat was the critical turning point in the novel-reading for me, personally. the moment i realized bill bryson is a comedic wonderchild. the moment i was simultaneously overjoyed to have discovered him as a writer and depressed i wasted so much time trying to pretend erma bombeck could truly capture the lasting effects of one's childhood experiences with sex ed. the moment i spit an unhealthy mixture of sprite and airline peanuts all over the back of a poor old lady [...]

  • Baby Boomers Go to School20 September 2016 I wasn't really sure about this book because while Bryson's story about his trek around the continental United States was very entertaining, and quite informative, the idea about reading about somebody's childhood didn't really appeal to me – I've never been a big fan of autobiographies (or biographies in general). However I never really thought much of travelogues either before I read The Lost Continent, but then I guess it had a lot to do with Bryso [...]

  • Ревю => justonebooklover/2~ ~ ~От известно време се канех да прочета нещо на Бил Брайсън, тъй като съм го приела за синоним на думата "хумор", а в много моменти човек се нуждае именно от малко хумор и ето, че с "Животът и времето на Хлапето Мълния" тази възможност ми се отвори. И напълно о [...]

  • This was a hilarious memoir from Bill Bryson. I grew up in Iowa too, so it made the book even a little better. Highly recommended!

  • I listened to this on CD, read by the author, so of course it was wonderful. I'll definitely be seeking it out in print at some point. Things go by so fast on audio that you can't go back and re-enjoy the really good parts. Even if you don't give a rodent's posterior about Iowa, this book is thoroughly enjoyable. Bryson is hilarious while at the same time providing a lot of interesting historical things about the 1950s and 60s, both the good and the bad. He really tells a great story about his o [...]

  • "Хлапето Мълния" безспорно е най-любимата ми книга на Бил Брайсън (без да съм изчела всичките му произведения). Безкрайно забавно надникване в живота на обикновените хлапета, живели в Америка през 50-те години на миналия век. Сред нижещите се една след друга комични ситуации [...]

  • As I look back upon all the memoirs I have read, I realize most are horribly tragic in some way. People surviving genocide, child abuse, and/or rape. One lady lost the majority of her face to cancer. No wonder I'm so depressed!Bryson's autobiography, on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air. Nothing tragic. In fact, his childhood is rather idyllic. In no way does that imply that it is boring or lacking in any way. Bryson, a child of the 50's, captures all the excitement of growing up in post [...]

  • My son has been raving about Bill Bryson's for some time now, but I was not sure that they would appeal to me. After hearing others rave about his memoir: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, I thought this might be a fun audio book. I am sorry I waited so long to try Bryson's work.This memoir was terrific. It leaves you with a feeling of appreciation for the simple things in life. Bill Bryson and I were born a year apart, and as baby boomers growing up in the 50's and 60's, I found this m [...]

  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is a must read for anyone who grew up in the fifties and sixties. He captures life in the fifties and early sixties through the lens of a pre-teen boy. Though he grew up in one of Iowa's larger cities and I grew up in a small New Mexico town, the experiences are very similiar. Be ready to laugh out loud, but beware, he uses some language that I would have been given the old "Wash your mouth out with soap" treatment.

  • Even though this is a memoir it is difficult not to think about it in the context of other superhero/childhood stories. Kavalier and Clayand Fortress of Solitude come to mind. Among these books the Thunderbold Kid falls flat. The image Bryson paints of the fifties is truly magnificent. He really captures the excitement of the beginning of the space age. It is when he is elaborating on this time that I am captivated, but when he speaks specifically about his own life I get a little bored. His lif [...]

  • Please note: am at the mercy of book exchanges and personal swaps with fellow travelers. With that said, I made this trade against my better judgment because I was flirting with a 20 year old, another lapse in judgment, apparently.Anyway, he championed this book as very funny and a very popular author in UK in general. This struck me as odd as he is American and we have a thirst as of late for the comedic essay or memoir. After reading this book, I realize why he is only popular in the UK and no [...]

  • Terrible. There is nothing quite as insipid as a childhood autobiography told through the rose-coloured glasses of 1950s nostalgia. I could not bear to read much further than the first couple of chapters because Bryson's reverence for 1950s America is simultaneously disturbing, sad, and incredibly naive. While I'm sure some Americans may have enjoyed the post-war wave of prosperity, Bryson fails to mention that more than half the population (women & non-whites) were still mired in the grim s [...]

  • The Gallup Poll people apparently have established that 1957 was the happiest year for people living in America. (I think we can assume that Gallup means middle class white people.) THUNDERBOLT KID is Bill Bryson's remembrance of his childhood in those happy times.Bryson grew up in Des Moines IA, in the bucolic 1950s. His childhood was largely unremarkable, but he is such a talented story teller that reading him recount episodes of childhood is unfailingly entertaining and, often, laugh out loud [...]

  • Very easy and enjoyable to read.Very funny and oddly made me nostalgic for the 1950'seven though I wasn't born then.

  • Billy Bryson is one of my all-time favorite authors, and he doesn't disappoint. His memoir was smart and funny and clever, and it's everything you want a memoir to be. I think everyone has a story to tell. In fact, I'm writing a memoir right now and I have lived a fairly normal, suburban life. My favorite books, actually (ie A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) are not my favorite because they tell stories of heroism or defeat, but because the characters are so, so human. I love reading about simple lives [...]

  • This is an addendum to my previous review.I had to read this for my book club this month and as it was an enjoyable trip down a nostalgic lane for this Iowa boy, I found something oddly revealing in Bryson's glowing adoration for the 1950s. I couldn't help but think of Bryson and other's his age, or those slightly older who were teens in the 50s and witnessed the single largest economic boom in our history. Everything was for the taking. America was great (read into that what you must, because i [...]

  • Bill Bryson makes magic in this heartfelt memoir about his childhood in Iowa in the 1950's. His take on the forces which shaped American life mid-century, in the middle of the country, is spot-on hilarious. Exaggerating the ordinary and reveling in the extraordinary, he offers up an unforgettable depiction of the decade that shaped modern America. For all its innocence, the cultural landscape was shifting inexorably, driven by the explosion of television and the preponderance of the automobile. [...]

  • Bill Bryson is best suited for travel writing, where his crotchety personality shines through and assures us that the act of traveling is not always as romantic as Kerouac would have you believe-in other words, its ok to go through hell before you start to have a good time. His memoirs are good because he is funny and disparaging and all that Bryson is supposed to be, but the preachiness regarding the decline of small-town middle America is a bit much. You can't quite avoid the feeling that he w [...]

  • Like every other Bill Bryson book I've read, this one is utterly delightful, hilarious, endearing and charming. I'm sure my husband grew tired of hearing me laugh out loud when I would stay up late reading, but I couldn't help it -- Bryson's stories are too funny to hold in the giggles.There's also a good bit of U.S. history in the book to ground the chapters, but Bryson even manages to make the Cuban missile crisis and the threat of nuclear annihilation seem humorous.This book would make a grea [...]

  • There are definitely laugh out loud portions of this book, particularly the sections on elementary school and cinema matinees.Bryson captures with feeling the atmosphere of the 50’s. There were a ‘lot’ of kids in the 50’s and early sixties. Stores and downtowns were different. There is a kind of ‘Peanuts’ quality to this era. There was a security blanket which is now lost.Bryson does extend the truth and it is difficult at times to know how stretched out the exaggerations are – kid [...]

  • An interesting and quirky snapshot of Des Moines in the 1950s told from the perspective of a young, would-be superhero. Typically Bryson with some seriously laugh out loud moments (the tv clothing range in particular got me). This was a quick, fun read.

  • Бил Брайсън - "Животът и времето на Хлапето Мълния"Избягвам да пиша "междинни впечатления" за книги, но този път ще го направя /като "си запазвам правото" на по-обстойно ревю, след като приключа с четенето.От вчера чета "Животът и времето на Хлапето Мълния" от Бил Брайсън."От вче [...]

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