Notes from a Big Country. Bill Bryson.

By Bill Bryson

Printed: 1998

Publisher: Doubleday. London

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 4

Condition: Very good  (See explanation of ratings)

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In the original dustsheet. Black cloth binding with silver title on the spine.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

  •                              A superb collector’s copy.

If I’m honest, I was surprised to even find as many negative reviews for this book as I did – so be warned in advance that the adjective “glowing” could have been created for this review! Where to start? This book is a joy. Bryson, as a native of the US who spent a large chunk of his formative years in the UK, is able to view both cultures from a position that’s neither a real outsider nor quite an insider in each. There is no real narrative thread in this book as regular Bryson fans will have been accustomed to finding elsewhere: the format is very specific: a series of articles, written from America, for British readers. I can see how some people view this as a weakness, but in many ways it’s a huge plus – it’s possible to race through half a dozen “chapters” with ease, but similarly if time is pressing it is very enjoyable just to dip in. It’s not really a book so much as a collection of essays/letters, but none the worse for that. I didn’t find the book especially negative about either country: Bryson does confess to having a good complaint (sometimes with good reason, having read the trials of his wife and his friends becoming legal citizens, for instance). Generally, however, he is quite willing to poke fun at both the country of his birth and the country he has adopted as a second home with a certain amount of glee, a great deal of affection, and the relative objectivity of a man who belongs exclusively to neither place. Overall… It made me laugh, time and again. In amongst the giggles, I got a little insight into the differences between the two countries, a few wonderful descriptions of the US (including glowing accounts of New Hampshire’s severe-but-beautiful winters), and a vast amount of interest and enjoyment. One I know I shall re-read over and again, and that I can whole-heartily recommend to others.


William McGuire Bryson OBE HonFRS (born 8 December 1951) is an American–British journalist and author. Bryson has written a number of nonfiction books on topics including travel, the English language, and science. Born in the United States, he has been a resident of Britain for most of his adult life, returning to the U.S. between 1995 and 2003, and holds dual American and British citizenship. He served as the chancellor of Durham University from 2005 to 2011.

In 1995, while in the United Kingdom, Bryson authored Notes from a Small Island, an exploration of Britain. In 2003, he authored A Short History of Nearly Everything. In October 2020, he announced that he had retired from writing books. In 2022, he recorded an audiobook for Audible, The Secret History of Christmas. He has sold over 16 million books worldwide.

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