James Hepburn

Funny Old America

Made in America

By

Secker & Warburg 320pp £15 order from our bookshop

In the course of his ramble through the derivations in the American dictionary, Bill Bryson dismantles most of the clichés of the making of America. The Pilgrim Fathers were a bedraggled collection of incompetents who landed far from Plymouth Rock. Washington never chopped down his father’s cherry tree. The Liberty Bell did not sound on 4 July 1776. If it had, it would have made a meaningless jangle. The Declaration of Independence had been agreed on the 2nd and the last signature was added four years later. The Gettysburg Address was a hopeless failure described by the Chicago Times as ‘the silly, flat, dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent observers as the President of the United States’.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'It would be nice to think that women will achieve equal pay in my lifetime, rather than to watch gloomily as stati… ,
    • In 1660, two of the signatories of King Charles I's death warrant fled across the Atlantic to New England. But were… ,
    • Howard Jacobson's sixteenth novel is 'a love story of sorts, one characterised not by physical desire or even conta… ,
    • 'The sudden immersion in the new and unfamiliar can lead people to write with a rare lack of self-consciousness' P… ,
    • 'Pools bend the rules. Clothes slip off, skin glistens, consciousness heightens. A dreamlike scenario unfolds' Jam… ,
    • 'Although he surely didn’t know W H Auden’s theory that every high C proclaims human freedom and our capacity to tr… ,
    • RT : With beginning tomorrow, we've uncovered a 1997 article from the archive reviewing 'Golf Dream… ,