NEW YORK — When readers follow Bill Bryson on a literary amble, they never know exactly where they might end up – just that they’ll probably be happy to have tagged along.

His past journeys, along the Appalachian Trail (1998’s “A Walk in the Woods”), into the life of Shakespeare (2007’s “Shakespeare: The World as Stage”) and the rest of the universe (2003’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything”), to name a few, put him in rarified territory. He’s popular enough to automatically appear on best-seller lists, respected enough to have been named an honorary fellow of the Royal Society this year.

His latest book, “One Summer: America, 1927,” was just released. In typical Bryson fashion, it covers: Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Calvin Coolidge, sensational crimes, celebrity culture, the birth of aviation, the invention of television, the Great Mississippi Flood, Al Capone and the creation of Mount Rushmore.

There are, of course, a few diversions along the way.

Amiable and engaging, Bryson sat down to talk before signing books for a long line of fans at BookExpo America earlier this year. Here’s an edited version of that chat.

Q: Why 1927?

A: It’s a bunch of things, really. My dad was a sportswriter, and he was born in 1915. So he was 12 years old in 1927. And I think he must have communicated all of that to me – the excitement of baseball in that era when he grew up. And I’d always wanted to do a baseball book. But because I live in England, and so much of my readership is from Britain or overseas, they don’t know about baseball; they don’t care about baseball. I couldn’t just do a baseball book.

And I was struck by the idea that Babe Ruth and Charles Lindbergh both had these career years in absolute parallel in the summer of 1927. I thought, “Well, maybe if I did a book that wasn’t so clearly about Babe Ruth, I could do a book that was more about the period, about the summer.” And what I found is that Babe Ruth is a great story, but there are lots of other stories that were as good.

Q: It’s astonishing to think that so much happened in one summer.

A: You can imagine what it was like for me doing the research. I just felt so lucky: “Sacco and Vanzetti are executed? Thank you, God!” I mean, not thank you for executing them, but thank you for doing it in the summer of 1927. 

Q: Was there a particular figure you came to admire? Did your views on any of them change as you wrote?

A: Lindbergh was the one that ended up fascinating me very much because he really was such an enigma. And I came away with a huge amount of unexpected admiration for him as a pilot and what he did in flying – not just flying to Paris but actually flying straight there and hitting all his marks along the way, alone, no navigator, nothing. That was pretty amazing.

And what it does is it makes him the most admired and famous person on the planet. He’s 25 years old. He’s a kid. He’s not very smart. He’s not very worldly. Imagine being put in that position – where you go from nobody in the world knows you to everybody worships you.

So I tried to be sympathetic to him for that reason alone. But having said all that, ultimately he became an extremely unattractive human being. He was clearly very sympathetic to Germany during the war.

Q: You go off on so many great tangents – but 1927 was a great year for Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, and there’s not a mention of them. How did they get left out?

A: I thought hard about that. There’s no George Gershwin in there, either. There’s two answers to that. With Gershwin, anyway, it wasn’t a particularly big year for him. Musically, it wasn’t a particularly big year. There were a lot of popular songs written that year, but then every year produces a lot of popular songs. There wasn’t anything particularly transformative.

Jazz is another story. But jazz is a world that I don’t know. And I just couldn’t make room for it. Because once you open that door, you’ve got all kinds of stories.

I think you could make a similar complaint that I didn’t really do race very well. I spent a lot of time talking about Jews and immigrants and Italians and all of that, but very little about blacks, and they were the people that were really suffering. If I had talked about jazz, I would obviously have to talk about the condition of blacks at that time.

And it wasn’t because I didn’t think those things were worthy of attention – it’s just that I couldn’t make space for them. I mean, it’s already a pretty thick book, with just five months. I could have made it twice the size.

Q: You have a knack for finding little stories that have great twists, often involving comeuppance. I’m thinking of the story from “A Short History of Nearly Everything” about the man who invented leaded gasoline, and then invented CFCs, dying a horrible death. Is there a trick to finding such stories?

A: It’s really just the stuff that interests me. I always think that all I’m doing really is the same thing that most of us do when we read a good book or watch an interesting documentary on TV. What you want to do is go tell other people about it. “Did you see that thing on National Geographic Channel? Wasn’t that interesting?” And that’s all I’m doing. I’m just making a living from it.

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