November 8, 2013

I have just seen Douglas Brink­ley’s furious Oct. 6 Outlook review [“Summer of spectacle”] of my book “One Summer: America, 1927.” Brinkley is, of course, entitled to his opinions, however misinformed, but when he resorts to fabrications to bolster his case against me, I must object.

Brinkley asserted that my book is “devoid of footnotes,” that its “sourcing is sketchy” and that I “did no primary research (except for scanning Web sites).” Warming to this fantasy, he suggested that I merely downloaded “pertinent facts about famous figures and [pasted] them together into a book.”

In making these ludicrous assertions, Brinkley has managed to overlook that readers of my book are directed to a 119-page appendix available online that contains some 1,200 annotated source notes, enough to satisfy an academic far more scrupulous and attentive than he. The book’s bibliography contains some 300 entries and is accompanied by a section headed “Notes on Sources and Further Reading,” which discusses at some length (and with obvious familiarity) the principal books, journals, legal documents and other sources I consulted. These are regularly cited within the 500-odd pages of text of “One Summer” itself.

Brinkley may not like my writing style, my organizational skills, my sense of humor or the fact that many readers seem to enjoy my books, but his assertion that “One Summer” has been cut and pasted from the Internet was irresponsible and based on nothing more than his own sad imaginings.

Brinkley will be a better reviewer when he learns to distinguish between criticism and insult.

Bill Bryson,

Wramplingham, England