For anyone who lived through the 1950's (or for anyone who wants to know what it was like to live in the 1950's), I would recommend this book. Bryson remembers this simpler time, a time where parents expected you to be outside from eight in the morning till supper 'unless you were on fire or actively bleeding'. He takes us through his childhood and a series of topics like the space race, the nuclear bomb, the emergence of TV and discusses these topics and many more with humour and often with a nostalgia of what he believes were the better times. After all the 50's kids were indestructible as "we didn't need seat belts, air bags, smoke detectors, bottled water...helmets when we rode our bike, child safety caps on our medicines". Yes, very true indeed! It was an era where more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette (ha,ha) and supermarket foods contained so many chemical additives and "sometimes they contained some food as well, I believe." He discusses at length the toys of the 50's including model making (kits with sixty thousand tiny parts and tubes of glue that would result in hundreds of sagging strands that were "all connected to something that had nothing to do with model airplanes" Again just as I remember it and very funny too. They had to worry about "polio, keeping up with the Joneses, Negroes moving into the neighbourhood and the number one fear being teenagers.
This is a well written easy to read book with lots of very funny moments. It ends with a sense that something good was lost and he laments that "we didn't keep the things that made us different and special and attractive." "What a wonderful world it was. We won't see its like again, I'm afraid". And being of that era, I heartily agree!!