Written By: Bill Bryson

Narrated By: Kerry Shales

Date: December 2004

Duration: 2 hours 19 minutes


In an ageing Chevrolet Chevette, he drove nearly 14,000 miles through 38 states to compile this hilarious and perceptive state-of-the-nation report on small-town America.

From the Deep South to the Wild West, from Elvis' birthplace through to Custer's Last Stand, Bryson
visits places he re-named Dullard, Coma, and Doldrum (so the residents don't sue or come after him with baseball bats). But his hopes of finding the American dream end in a nightmare of greed, ignorance, and pollution. This is a wickedly witty and savagely funny assessment of a country lost to itself, and to him.

Travel through small-town America with Kerry Shale's popular BBC Radio 4 reading of Bill Bryson's comic travelogue.


  • Anonymous

    It seems like he doesn't like America. He looks for every opportunity to put something down or make fun. it gets old pretty quick. This is the worst Bill Bryson and I am a major fan of his.

  • Jocelyn

    I enjoy all of Bryson's books, this is not his best but still thoroughly enjoyable. However, if you're used to listening to Bryson's beautiful reading voice, with its gentle pace and lovely blended American/British accent...you're in for a horrible shock. This narrator is awful--he reads way too fast, and does a variety of awful grating not-funny voices. Unless Bryson does a version in audio format, just read the paper copy.

  • Victorine Merriman

    Bill Bryson is my new favorite author. I was SO disappointed, therefore, by the narrator. He spoke WAY too fast, and didn't do justice to the prose. I loved the story and the humor,the snide remarks and poignant phrases, but was constantly distracted by the narrator's interpretation. He did do a good job of using accents and his voice is pleasing, but it was otherwise difficult to listen to him. Bring back Bill as narrator of his own stories!

  • Steve Y

    The only thing more annoying than listening to Bill Bryson moan about any and every conceivable thing is someone else reading his work doing the same thing. This reader is particularly bad. He tries to be cute with his impersonations of the victims of Bryson's displeasure of the moment. Unfortunately, he is neither cute nor entertaining. If you've got to listen to Bryson -- and he does have a wierd sense of humor and some merit in many of his works -- listen to Bryson read Bryson. At least you get it straight from the horse's mouth -- or maybe from the other end is more accurate.

  • Anonymous

    I've enjoyed all of the other selections by Bill Bryson, so I was ready to enjoy this one - not so! This was so mean spiritied that I stopped listening after about 15 minutes. The ridiculous pace of the narration was also a contributing factor. It takes alot for me to give up on a book, and this is the only selection of over 100 where I didn't even get through the first CD.

  • Tonytoga

    If this had been Bryson's best work (and it certainly IS NOT), the audio production is SO BAD, it wouldn't be worth the listen anyway. Kerry Shale's double time, rapid fire narration is just silly. What producer would allow such? Were they attempting to get 180 minutes of audio on two 72-minute disks? As for Mr. Bryson, thank goodness this was his first book and he has matured greatly since its writing. I am a big fan of his work but this book, while giving the first glimpses of his incredibly clever style, also shows the smug, elitist, superior, Eurocentric attitude of an individual I wouldn't want to know. In Mr. Bryson's book, mid and southern America is populated only by gaptoothed hayseeds incapable of a complete thought and wholly unable to communicate in an understable language. I'm sure he remains an east coast blueblood snob these days but at least his writing has matured to a higher standard. If there were a half star rating, this book was worthy only of that.

  • Lee

    Whilst I haven't listened to this book, I agree with the earlier comments that this author goes off like a bullet from a gun (juding by the sound clip). He is not Bill Bryson, if you listen to the sound clip from 'Neither Here Nor There' - now that's Bill Bryson. Despite being American, spending a lot of his life in the UK has left its mark, especially in his accent. It seems to me that for some reason the publishers have used a more conventional American accent to narrate this book, I don't know why they do this, no one dubs the latest Hollywood blockbuster in an English tongue when product is shipped the other way. Being English myself, Bill doesn't have a difficult to understand accent. On the contrary, he sounds quintessentially English - how you would expect the Prime Minister or even 007 to sound. It's his book and he should narrate it. I've listened to two books of his. 'A walk in the woods' & 'Life & Times of the Thunderbolt kid' both were excellent - both narrated by Bill.

  • Anonymous

    The reader reads far too fast to allow you to enjoy this; but not sure it can be enjoyed at any pace as the content is rather mundane.

  • Anonymous

    Bill Bryson's take on small town America is laugh-out-loud funny at times, often poignant, and written with deep affection. But the book ends abruptly and the narrator's pace is breathless. (To be fair, Bryson's writing does have a frenetic pace to it, but it's harder to catch some of the details when listening, rather than looking at the words on a page.) This is an ideal book for short road trips or for those who've read some of Bryson's longer (and better developed) books. There are only two discs, so add it to your bookshelf for the times when you don't want the hassle of a multi-part book, or if you'll be listening with someone who won't share multiple trips with you.

  • Anonymous

    This is an interesting book but the narrator’s reading is so quick that a lot of the good jokes are lost.

Lost Continent

by Bill Bryson

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