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Publisher's Summary

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, his 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 in 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, Bryson recreates the life of his family and his native city in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality, at once completely familiar to us all and as far away and unreachable as another galaxy. 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 an audiobook as Bill Bryson has ever recorded. It will enchant anyone who has ever been young.
©2006 Bill Bryson (P)2006 Random House, inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"This affectionate portrait wistfully recalls the bygone days of Burns and Allen and downtown department stores, but with a good-natured elbow poke to the ribs." (Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By David on 11-30-06

Fun, but not for squeamish

Off and on while listening to "The Thunderbolt Kid" you realize that no one's memory of childhood could be that good, and that Bryson has invented and embroidered throughout. But it doesn't matter: his Midwest 1950s is recreated in such careful detail that you're more reliving his story than listening to it. This is somewhat less than wonderful when he is describing with gusto, about once every five minutes, various encounters with boogers, dog poo, partially masticated food, and--but you get the idea. (On the other hand, if you're a conoisseur of the gross you'll be delighted.)

Bryson has a huge audience and most of his readers are not Americans of his generation, so he's justified in his historical excursions into the sociology and highly problematic American political culture of the 1950s. His boyhood in Des Moines was lived in a sort of happy bubble, something he's acutely aware of as an adult.

His reading doesn't have the range or verve of some professional readers, but it's clear and careful and has a quiet intimacy that grew on me as the reading went on.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By David Shear on 05-21-13

Can't speak highly enough of this book

I've listened to this book now four times and I'll listen to it again. It is by far my most highly recommended book. AND, it's even better in audio then it is reading it because Bryson is the narrator. It is heartwarming and funny and real and perfect. There is not high enough praise for this book.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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