Sunday, February 20, 2011

At Home

If you hadn't guessed, Bryson's At Home is recommended. Plenty to set you thinking. Popular history always has the difficulty of focusing on the unusual and the extremes of trends, giving a somewhat false picture. But as these extremes are often in the service of correcting a conventional wisdom false impression, the overall effect is about right. Bryson does have that failing, but hews close enough to real trends that permeated society over history (strong emphasis on British and American societies) that his fascination with the outliers can - usually - be put down to a drive for vividness and memorability. He does overstep and gets things wrong at points (I count three so far), however, leaving one to wonder about his entire reliability on other matters. I'm pretty sure he gets most of it, though, despite tackling a variety of subjects in rapid succession. And he writes very engagingly. 4.5 stars.


Ben Wyman said...

I'm usually not near this successful on Christmas presents.

Sam L. said...

Personally, I dislike Bryson. I get a snarkiness that I just can't appreciate.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I see that, and have commented on it before.