There's no point, really, in reviewing this book in a traditional sense. It's only going to appeal to a small group of readers including: Bryson fans, History buffs, and Linguistic lovers, so, if you don't fall into any of these categories, you might want to skip this entry.
The title is a little misleading (and very long) since this is not a dictionary with word origins and histories, but rather it's a selective history of the U.S. focused on significant events and time periods and the words that evolved as a result. You learn how new words came about but also how preexisting words had their meanings changed by circumstance. It's just an awesome book, plain and simple (I fall into the Linguistic Lover category.)
I ended up reading the book in small bursts between mostly fiction and this would be my only suggestion for other readers. It helped me stay very interested in the book as a whole to take a little breaks and not overwhelm myself with the information. Too much of a good thing after all can be overkill.
The way Bryson shares information is as appealing as the information itself. He talks about everything with such a casual tone and never feels compelled to tell you everything. He makes his points, finds what's interesting and leaves the reader more educated than when they started the book on whatever topic he's covering. And you want to tell other people about what you're learning! Bryson makes me happy because I know I'm going to enjoy reading one of his books before I even crack the cover open.
Language is an ever-changing entity. New words are constantly worming their way into everyday vernacular, old words are being redefined and reintroduced, and new terms and phrases are constantly emerging. I think about terms like social media or how people can now "tweet" something and it blows my mind that what meant nothing just a few years ago are now terms commonly understood by everyone.
Language is amazing and I loved learning more about its history, especially within the confines of something already familiar - the history of the United States.
Other Bill Bryson books reviewed in this blog: