• Made in America

  • By: Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by: William Roberts
  • Length: 18 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 01-16-06
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 4 out of 5 stars 4.2 (913 ratings)

Regular price: $22.38

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Publisher's Summary

In Made in America, Bryson de-mythologizes his native land, explaining how a dusty hamlet with neither woods nor holly became Hollywood, how the Wild West wasn't won, why Americans say 'lootenant' and 'Toosday', how Americans were eating junk food long before the word itself was cooked up, as well as exposing the true origins of the G-string, the original $64,000 question, and Dr Kellogg of cornflakes fame.
©1994 Bill Bryson (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Bryson offers a playfully anecdotal account of the etymology of distinctive words and phrases that help to create a distinctly American English." ( Publishers Weekly)
"A treat....Filled with surprises....A literate exploration of why we use, or mangle, our native tongue." ( USA Today)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By John on 02-28-14

Bryson Not Reading Makes For a Rare Fail

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Bill Bryson is both a great writer and reader. His books have been a high point in my time here at Audible, but the William Roberts doesn't get Bryson's pacing or timing and as a result much of the humor is lost. If Audible could get a rerecord, I would recommend this, but I would suggest not downloading it and reading it on paper or digital over this performance.

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43 of 45 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Thomas S Kovacs on 01-09-14

Bryson OK Roberts not so much

Would you listen to Made in America again? Why?

I just started to listen but one thing is very clear to me,Bill Bryson needs to read his own books. The narrator doesn't make me want to keep listening but I will.

Would you be willing to try another one of William Roberts’s performances?


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22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Tom on 05-12-10

A history of America through its language

As a native Brit I wondered how interesting a book about American English would be to me. I was also rather concerned about the scope of this book - how on Earth could Bill Bryson fill such a long time with what seemed like such a limited topic?

My concerns on both counts were unfounded. It turns out that most of the Americanisms that Bill Bryson covers in his book are so embedded in British English now that we don't even think of them as Americanisms any more. Interestingly it also works in reverse - many things we think of as Americanisms actually started out in Britain!

On the second count, Bill Bryson does far more than just list words that are Americanisms and research their origins. He puts them in their cultural context, and indeed in some ways this book is more of a history of America told through the development of its language. Indeed, at some points the link between the topic being covered and the development of American English is distant to say the least.

Despite its considerable length, this book kept my interest throughout. The only issue I can really highlight is that it does get a bit confusing sometimes when words are being spelt out, but this happens only occasionally and is not a serious issue. Apart from this, the narration is brilliant and adds to what is already an excellent book.

All in all, a highly recommended book.

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21 of 21 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Lindsay Kay Caddy on 07-18-11

One of the poorer Bryson books

I enjoyed this book but it was very annoying in places with constant lists of words but even more tedious was listening to lists of individual words being spelt out. The facts in the book were vaguely interesting but not so interesting that you would bother relaying the fact to anyone else or bringing it up in conversation. Overall a bland book, wellr esearched but not a page turner.

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15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Aileen on 07-03-15

Very entertaining account of American vocabulary

I love this book and I've read it several times. It is rich and varied and funny. the tales are told in a funny and gripping way. No wonder Bill Bryson writes on languages; he obviously loves words and writes with a light airy tone that belies the masses of research that clearly sit behind the adept construction of this book.
The last Bryson on audible I purchased had the author narrating. I don't really like his voice at all so I was pleased to see a different narrator for this one. Unfortunately, this narrator is very irritating. The book is so 'over-read' that it feels like I'm listening to a children's book. As an adult listener, im capable of picking up jokes without the narrator virtually waggling his eyebrows and nudging me in the ribs. Dial it down, dude. I'm able to interpret without your heavy handed delivery. This does detract from experience a great deal.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Robert A. Cant on 01-22-17


What did you like best about Made in America? What did you like least?

Made in America largely focusses on the words that are considered to be "American English", or the place names and how they came about. There is also quite a lot of history, which is probably what I enjoyed most, and the fallacies that surround the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Columbus, Paul Revere, etc. Not being from America some of it was perhaps lost on me.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Made in America?

There must have been a phenomenal amount of research go into this book, by a man with genuine love for the written word. By and large that love comes through the book, but some of it was not that interesting to this reader. I did enjoy the 'debunking' of historical figures, and legends, such as the fact the settlers heading west never used canvas covered wagons, and how small a percentage of the population of the west were "cowboys".

What didn’t you like about William Roberts’s performance?

Others have commented that Bill Bryson should read his own books himself, and I'm inclined to agree. This must've been a difficult book to narrate, and William Roberts makes a solid effort, but I didn't find myself laughing at all. Other books, narrated by Bill Bryson, had many laugh out loud moments. Not sure if it is the material or the narration - probably a bit of both. But for a Bill Bryson book to lack humour seems to indicate something is missing from the narration.

Did Made in America inspire you to do anything?

It's a history lesson in the main, and an interesting one. What it did for me was convince me how hard it was for the early settlers, and immigrants. The early days of America were pretty rough, and while the rewards were immense for a relative few, it was very, very hard work for most, and life was tough. The present day may have it's faults but I'm glad to be living now and not 200 years ago. Thanks to Bill Bryson for 'keeping it real'.

Any additional comments?

I do note that Bill Bryson's latest book is self narrated, and I'd encourage him to continue reading his own books. Mr Robert's efforts were solid and clear, but for whatever reason any humour in the text was lost.

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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