• The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

  • By: Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by: Bill Bryson
  • Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Release date: 08-30-06
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 4.3 (232 ratings)

Regular price: $20.42

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Publisher's Summary

Bill Bryson's hilarious memoir of growing up in middle America in the Fifties, complete, unabridged, and read by the author.Born in 1951 in the middle of the United States, Des Moines, Iowa, Bill Bryson is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24 carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generation, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. In his case, he ran around the house wearing a jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel round his neck that served as his cape, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and vanquishing evildoers (in his head) as The Thunderbolt Kid.
Using his old fantasy life as a springboard, Bill Bryson recreates the life of his family in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality. In a period that saw the inexorable rise of television, the opening of Disneyland, the testing of the atomic bomb, and the explosion of choice in everything from food to cars, Bill Bryson's days followed in reassuringly cosy succession, enlivened by modest triumphs and disasters.
Warm and laugh-out-loud funny, The Thunderbolt Kid is full of Bill Bryson's inimitable, pitch-perfect observations and this unabridged recording contains every single amusing anecdote and amazing fact. Nothing is left out, so you can enjoy the whole book in its entirety, read by Bill Bryson himself.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Robin on 08-22-11

I just loved it!

This is such a funny autobiography and brings to life the minds of small and not so small boys! Having Bill Bryson read his own biography is an added bonus as he brings it to life. I laughed out loud so often. A wonderful listen.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By Joel on 11-06-06

Another Bryson Hit

This is a great book. It contains more profanity than his past works, but usually in a context where some explicatives are required. There are also some political jabs that I think will spoil this work a generation or two down the road. I love Bill Bryson and all his other works... and as usual, it's a real treat to have the author reading their own book!

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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By chris on 10-26-06

Stupid grin on my face

I've just spent several happy hours with a stupid grin on my face, not to mention laughing out loud (and I'm not the sort of person to laugh out loud), listening to this genuinely funny narration. Bill Bryson has a wonderful way with words - both the way he's written this and the way he's narrated it - and you don't have to be a child of the fifties to enjoy this story about childhood and 'why grown-ups are not to be trusted'. This is quite the best thing I've listened to so far in my 16 months of membership and I just didn't want it to end, so now I'm off to download some more Bryson titles...

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful


By Lee on 07-17-15

A nostalgic view of childhood

Bryson narrates his own novel like a much loved uncle retelling stories of his youth. The book covers his childhood during the 50's and 60's in rural America. It gives an insight into the hope that filled a nation and how this changed as pivotal moments in American history unravel. These are captured from a child's eye with great wonder. Part of the beauty of the book is it captures the human condition at childhood. There's also some great moments of humour that made me chuckle. I wouldn't normally read a biography, but found this an entertaining read.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Jeff on 01-02-17

Thoroughly enjoyable

I loved this book. I found it hilarious. I'm surprised that it isn't one of the better known Bryson books. I think it's one of his best. I do suspect that quite a few of the stories are exaggerated, but what the hell: they're really enjoyable.

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By Robert A. Cant on 01-02-17

The Development of the USA alongside Bill Bryson

Where does The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I've taken to listening to Audible books in my lunch-hours, while walking around our local residential streets. I was always interested, always entertained, and frequently causing casual passers-by to wonder what was going on with the many laugh out loud moments. It's an interesting narration of middle America in the early 50's through to the 60's, told by Bill Bryson via his alter ego "the Thunderbolt Kid". Funny, and informative. Just a great story.

Who was your favorite character and why?

As an autobiography, plain Bill is the central character, but many, many interesting characters intersected with his childhood.

Which character – as performed by Bill Bryson – was your favourite?

Too many to mention. I'd be explaining the whole book all over again. All characterizations are explained in wonderful detail, and it was easy to imagine them.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I'd love to have the luxury of having 8+ hours in a block to listen to audiobooks, However, I'm afraid life gets in the way. I listened to this as quickly as I've listened to any audiobook,which is a recommendation. Given the time, I'd have given it a go to listen in one sitting.

Any additional comments?

This was my first Bill Bryson audiobook. On the strength of the enjoyment of this, I bought "Made in America", which I've just started. It's narrated by William Roberts - competently. My own preference, and a very strong one, is Bill's narration compared to William Roberts. The subtle humour comes through for me much stronger with Mr Bryson's narration. Mr Roberts seems a bit serious for a Bill Bryson's writing style. I've noted that many of those narrated by Bill Bryson are abridged versions, which seems a waste. So a solid vote for Bill Bryson to narrate his own books, and I do note that the latest One Summer - America 1927 is self narrated. That's my next purchase come the monthly subscription renewal.

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