Rendu célèbre par ses récits de voyage et son humour, l'Américain Bill Bryson entreprend dans ce nouveau livre le plus extraordinaire des périples : surpris d'apprendre qu'on pourrait acheter tous les composants chimiques de notre organisme pour cinq dollars dans une quincaillerie, il décide d'explorer le corps humain et d'en percer les secrets.
« Jamais un bouquin ne m'a fait autant rire », affirme Robert Redford, qui en a fait son livre de chevet et vient de l'adapter à l'écran. Retour aux Etats-Unis, retour à la nature : Bill Bryson s'attaque à l'Appalachian Trail, un sentier qui serpente, sur 3500 kilomètres, du Maine à la Géorgie. Dans cette aventure qui mêle histoire naturelle et histoires drôles, il s'est choisi pour compagnon de marche son vieux copain d'école, Stephen Katz, l'un des personnages de Ma fabuleuse enfance dans l'Amérique des années 1950, que la nature intéresse beaucoup, beaucoup moins que X-Files. Le problème, c'est qu'en se promenant dans les bois on risque de croiser, comme dans la série de science-fiction, d'étranges créatures...
Posez une question, Bryson y répond dans ce livre qui conjugue avec bonheur science et sourire. Vous y apprendrez par quels hasards, traits de génie, intuitions, déductions, expérimentations, débats, les hommes en sont arrivés à connaître le monde tel qu'ils le connaissent aujourd'hui. Tout y est (ou presque) de l'histoire des sciences, de notre planète et de l'univers. Un merveilleux compagnon, dont la lecture devrait être recommandée à tous les collégiens... et à leurs parents ! Ce livre a reçu le prestigieux prix Aventis du meilleur livre de vulgarisation scientifique et l'Union européeenne lui a décerné le prix Descartes pour la communication scientifique.
Ayant découvert que ce qui s'était passé dans le monde depuis deux siècles s'était retrouvé sous forme d'objets et de rituels quotidiens dans notre intérieur, le plus drôle des écrivains voyageurs américains fait le tour de sa maison pour nous raconter cette grande aventure du génie humain - de l'invention de la tapette à souris à la conception de la tour Eiffel, de la saga des acariens à celle des milliardaires. Une histoire de l'envers du décor.
Entre récit de voyage, peinture de société et expériences loufoques, cet impertinent et savoureux portrait de l'Angleterre des années 1990 (épicé de flash-backs dans les années 1970) a consacré Bill Bryson comme le plus british des écrivains américains.
Lorsque Bill Bryson naît en 1951 à Des Moines, capitale de l'Iowa, 90 pour 100 des Américains possèdent déjà un réfrigérateur. Au cours de cette décennie heureuse, il leur sera répété que tout ou presque est bon pour la santé, dont la cigarette, le DTT et les retombées radioactives. Tout en racontant son enfance, Bryson nous régale d'une chronique des années 1950 aussi drôle que tendre. Gags à chaque page sur le quotidien d'un petit garçon de la middle class dans le Middle West, mais par-delà le fou rire, ce portrait d'une superpuissance trop sûre d'elle nous fait méditer sur le déclin de l'empire américain.
Après avoir brossé avec humour tant de portraits d'Américains moyens, Bill Bryson s'attaque à l'un des plus grands génies de la planète, pour prendre la mesure de ce que les archives nous apprennent réellement sur William Shakespeare. Celui-ci n'a laissé en effet que quatorze mots de sa main, mais combien de milliards d'autres écrits sur lui, qui l'on transformé en obsession d'universitaires et d'excentriques aveuglés par les idées reçues ! En campant avec truculence le décor de l'Angleterre de la fin du XVIe siècle dans un livre qui fait de l'érudition un régal. Bryson nous ramène tout simplement à l'homme qu'a pu être le dramaturge, et l'on finit par en apprendre beaucoup sur un personnage aussi mystérieux. Surtout, notre écrivain-voyageur de l'Iowa nous transporte au coeur d'une oeuvre universelle qui demeure la plus belle preuve de l'existence de William Shakespeare.
L'auteur américain de tant de chroniques drôlissimes sur ses compatriotes d'aujourd'hui s'intéresse à ceux du passé dans ce livre pour lequel il a été élu outre-Manche meilleur auteur de non-fiction : avec pour point de départ la traversée de l'Atlantique par Lindbergh, le 21 mai 1927, et au travers d'innombrables destins personnels, son récit est tout à la fois un portrait loufoque sur cinq mois des États-Unis d'avant la Grande Dépression, une collection d'événements et d'inventions ayant bouleversé le monde (cinéma parlant, télévision, etc.), ainsi qu'une évocation de problématiques toujours très actuelles (climat et bulles spéculatives, présidents étranges et tueurs fous...).
The longest continuous footpath in the world, the Appalachian Trail stretches along the East Coast of the United States, from Georgia to Maine, through some of the most arresting and celebrated landscapes in America.
At the age of forty-four, in the company of his friend Stephen Katz (last seen in the bestselling Neither Here nor There), Bill Bryson set off to hike through the vast tangled woods which have been frightening sensible people for three hundred years. Ahead lay almost 2,200 miles of remote mountain wilderness filled with bears, moose, bobcats, rattlesnakes, poisonous plants, disease-bearing tics, the occasional chuckling murderer and - perhaps most alarming of all - people whose favourite pastime is discussing the relative merits of the external-frame backpack.
Facing savage weather, merciless insects, unreliable maps and a fickle companion whose profoundest wish was to go to a motel and watch The X-Files, Bryson gamely struggled through the wilderness to achieve a lifetime's ambition - not to die outdoors.
'It was as if I had privately discovered life on another planet, or a parallel universe where life was at once recognizably similar but entirely different. I can't tell you how exciting it was. Insofar as I had accumulated my expectations of Australia at all in the intervening years, I had thought of it as a kind of alternative southern California, a place of constant sunshine and the cheerful vapidity of a beach lifestyle, but with a slightly British bent - a sort of Baywatch with cricket...' Of course, what greeted Bill Bryson was something rather different. Australia is a country that exists on a vast scale. It is the world's sixth largest country and its largest island. It is the only island that is also a continent and the only continent that is also a country. It is the driest, flattest, hottest, most desiccated, infertile and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents and still it teems with life - a large proportion of it quite deadly.
In fact, Australia has more things that can kill you in a very nasty way than anywhere else. This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you. If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistable currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the bking outback.
Ignoring such dangers - yet curiously obsessed by them - Bill Bryson journeyed to Australia and promptly fell in love with the country. And who can blame him? The people are cheerful, extrovert, quick-witted and unfailingly obliging; their cities are safe and clean and nearly always built on water; the food is excellent; the beer is cold and the sun nearly always shines. Life doesn't get much better than this.
'I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to' And, as soon as Bill Bryson was old enough, he left. Des Moines couldn't hold him, but it did lure him back. After ten years in England, he returned to the land of his youth, and drove almost 14,000 miles in search of a mythical small town called Amalgam, the kind of trim and sunny place where the films of his youth were set. Instead, his search led him to Anywhere, USA; a lookalike strip of gas stations, motels and hamburger outlets populated by lookalike people with a penchant for synthetic fibres. Travelling around thirty-eight of the lower states - united only in their mind-numbingly dreary uniformity - he discovered a continent that was doubly lost; lost to itself because blighted by greed, pollution, mobile homes and television; lost to him because he had become a stranger in his own land.
The Lost Continent is a classic of travel literature - hilariously, stomach-achingly funny, yet tinged with heartache - and the book that first staked Bill Bryson's claim as the most beloved writer of his generation.
Bill Bryson's first travel book, The Lost Continent, was unanimously acclaimed as one of the funniest books in years. In Neither here Nor there he brings his unique brand of humour to bear on Europe as he shoulders his backpack, keeps a tight hold on his wallet, and journeys from Hamemrfest, the northernmost town on the continent, to istanbul on the cusp of Asia. Fluent in, oh, at least one language, he retraces his travels as a student twenty years before.
Whether braving the homicidal motorists of Paris, being robbed by gypsies in Florence, attempting not to order tripe and eyeballs in a German restaurant, window-shopping in the sex shops of the Reeperbahn or disputing his hotel bill in Copenhagen, Bryson takes in the sights, dissects the culture and illuminates each place and person with his hilariously caustic observations. He even goes to Liechtenstein.
After nearly two decades in Britain, Bill Bryson took the decision to move back to the States for a few years, to let his kids experience life in another country, to give his wife the chance to shop until 10 p.m. seven nights a week, and, most of all, because he had read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, and it was thus clear to him that his people needed him.
But before leaving his muchloved home in North Yorkshire, Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home. His aim was to take stock of the nation's public face and private parts (as it were), and to analyse what precisely it was he loved so much about a country that had produced Marmite, a military hero whose dying wish was to be kissed by a fellow named Hardy, place names like Farleigh Wallop, Titsey and Shellow Bowells, people who said 'Mustn't grumble', and Gardeners' Question Time.
Edited and introduced by Bill Bryson, with contributions from Richard Dawkins, Margaret Atwood, Richard Holmes, Martin Rees, Richard Fortey, Steve Jones, James Gleick and Neal Stephenson amongst others, this book tells the story of science and the Royal Society, from 1660 to the present.
Bill Bryson goes to Kenya at the invitation of CARE International, the charity dedicated to working with local communities to eradicate poverty around the world. Kenya, generally regarded as the cradle of mankind, is a land of contrasts, with famous game reserves, stunning landscapes, and a vibrant cultural tradition. It also provides plenty to worry a traveller like Bill Bryson, fixated as he is on the dangers posed by snakes, insects and large predators. But on a more sober note, it is a country that shares many serious human and environmental problems with the rest of Africa: refugees, AIDS, drought, and grinding poverty.
Travelling around the country, Bryson casts his inimitable eye on a continent new to him, and the resultant diary, though short in length, contains the trademark Bryson stamp of wry observation and curious insight. All the author's royalties from Bill Bryson's African Diary, as well as all profits, will go to CARE International.
Illustrated with 8pp of colour.
Some say that the first hint that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came when his mother sent him to school in lime-green Capri pants. Others think it all started with his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the moth-holed chest was a golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns out of people's hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his jeans in the manner of Superman.
/> Bill Bryson's first travel book opened with the immortal line, 'I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.' In his deeply funny new memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, and the curious world of 1950s America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout. This is a book about growing up in a specific time and place. But in Bryson's hands, it becomes everyone's story, one that will speak volumes - especially to anyone who has ever been young.
Bill Bryson turns away form the highways and byways of middle America, so hilariously depicted in his bestselling The Lost Continent, for a fast, exhilarating ride along the Route 66 of American language and popular culture.
In Made in America, Bryson de-mythologizes his native land - explaining how a dusty desert 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.
Buy this book at once and have a nice day!
From perfectly formed potatoes to adulterous US presidents, and from domestic upsets to millennial fever, Bill Bryson just cannot resist airing his opinions and standing up for his (mostly) law-abiding fellow American citizens. But of course after twenty years in England, he is now back on the other side of the pond, and is obviously having a little trouble finding his true American self again.
After vigorous exercise on the Appalachian Trail comes this edited collection of Bryson's most splenetic comic pieces culled from his humorous regular column in the Mail on Sunday.
This celebration of the English countryside does not only focus on the rolling green landscapes and magnificent monuments that set England apart from the rest of the world. Many of the contributors bring their own special touch, presenting a refreshingly eclectic variety of personal icons, from pub signs to seaside piers, from cattle grids to canal boats, and from village cricket to nimbies.
First published as a lavish colour coffeetable book, this new expanded paperback edition has double the original number of contributions from many celebrities including Bill Bryson, Michael Palin, Eric Clapton, Bryan Ferry, Sebastian Faulks, Kate Adie, Kevin Spacey, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, Richard Mabey , Simon Jenkins, John Sergeant, Benjamin Zephaniah, Joan Bakewell, Antony Beevor, Libby Purves, Jonathan Dimbleby, and many more: and a new preface by HRH Prince Charles.
What does history really consists of? Centuries of people quietly going about their daily business - sleeping, eating, having sex, endeavouring to get comfortable.
And where did all these normal activities take place?
This was the thought that inspired Bill Bryson to start a journey around the rooms of his own house, an 1851 Norfolk rectory, to consider how the ordinary things in life came to be. And what he discovered are surprising connections to anything from the Crystal Palace to the Eiffel Tower, from scurvy to body-snatching,from bedbugs to the Industrial Revolution, and just about everything else that has ever happened, resulting in one of the most entertaining and illuminating books ever written about the history of the way we live.
Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller: but even when he stays safely in his own study at home, he can't contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to find out everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us.
Bill Bryson's challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry and particle physics, and see if there isn't some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. It's not so much about what we know, as about how we know what we know. How do we know what is in the centre of the Earth, or what a black hole is, or where the continents were 600 million years ago? How did anyone ever figure these things out?
On his travels through time and space, he encounters a splendid collection of astonishingly eccentric, competitive, obsessive and foolish scientists, like the painfully shy Henry Cavendish who worked out many conundrums like how much the Earth weighed, but never bothered to tell anybody about many of his findings. In the company of such extraordinary people, Bill Bryson takes us with him on the ultimate eye-opening journey, and reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.
What does history really consist of? Centuries of people quietly going about their daily business - sleeping, eating, having sex, endeavouring to get comfortable. And where did all these normal activities take place? At home.
This was the thought that inspired Bill Bryson to start a journey around the rooms of his own house, an 1851 Norfolk rectory, to consider how the ordinary things in life came to be.
And what he discovered are surprising connections to anything from the Crystal Palace to the Eiffel Tower, from scurvy to body-snatching, from bedbugs to the Industrial Revolution, and just about everything else that has ever happened, resulting in one of the most entertaining and illuminating books ever written about the history of the way we live, enhanced in this new edition by hundreds of stunning photographs and illustrations.
A selection of spellings and usages, covering capitalization, plurals, abbreviations and foreign names and phrases. This book also helps the readers with the difference between British and American usages, and includes information such as the names of all the Oxford colleges, or the new name for the Department of Trade and Industry.