1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $20.99

Buy for $20.99

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Hardly anyone ever leaves Des Moines, Iowa. But Bill Bryson did, and after 10 years in England he decided to go home, to a foreign country.

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.

©1989 Bill Bryson (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Lost Continent

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    346
  • 4 Stars
    207
  • 3 Stars
    141
  • 2 Stars
    71
  • 1 Stars
    49
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    330
  • 4 Stars
    183
  • 3 Stars
    82
  • 2 Stars
    44
  • 1 Stars
    35
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    287
  • 4 Stars
    160
  • 3 Stars
    114
  • 2 Stars
    61
  • 1 Stars
    48

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

There are better Bill Bryson audiobooks

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Have the older, kinder Bill Bryson go back in time and take this journey. While some of his commentary was both hilarious and heartwarming, like many other reviewers, I was startled at how mean-spirited this book could be in comparison to Bryson's later works. He is comparatively positive about Iowa and the Midwest, as he waxes nostalgic about his childhood in Des Moines (and as an Iowan myself, I both confirm his assessment of our state and breathe a sigh of relief that his memories were good ones!) His commentary on other regions, particularly the South and Appalachia, was gratingly negative. Perhaps he was still in the process of finding his comedic voice, but I often found myself sympathizing with the unassuming and often kind people he was lampooning. The reader choice did not help matters any.

What other book might you compare The Lost Continent to and why?

Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe.

What didn’t you like about William Roberts’s performance?

This is Bryson at his most...curmudgeonly...and William Roberts was perhaps not the best narrator for this task. My first encounter with this book was of the dead trees variety; I noticed the negative tone then, but Roberts seemed to draw it out in the worst way, making the narrator seem even more smug, arrogant and rude, when Bryson's voice tends to be more self-deprecating and light-hearted. The advantage of this version is that it is unabridged; perhaps I was better off with my old beaten-up paperback, read in my head with Bryson's less irritating voice.

Was The Lost Continent worth the listening time?

If you are a Bryson fan, perhaps try to find a version that he reads himself.

On the whole, I would still recommend the book, but not as an introduction to Bill Bryson if you haven't read any of his stuff before. He's less of a jerk in his later books, so if you've read Neither Here nor There, A Walk in the Woods, or Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, you'll approach The Lost Continent in a more forgiving mood. This is his first major book, and he's still honing his voice.

It's also worth listening to simply because you can see the connections between his travels and topics that he covers in his later works, for instance, his near-visit to the Biltmore Mansion vis-a-vis his lengthy treatment of the Vanderbilt family in At Home: A History of Private Life. Don't expect that level of research in this book--this is primarily a travelogue--but it is interesting to get a glimpse of the context behind some of his more recent nonfiction books.

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not one of my favorites

This is one of Bryson's earliest books, published in the late 80's. As such, it lacks much of the humor that balances his snarkiness, leaving a book that seems to have been written by a curmudgeon. Americans have a lot of issues, but I found the book mean spirited. I also couldn't figure why he chose to travel during the cold, rainy season when some of the prettiest parts of the west weren't accessible. Maybe he wanted a better comparison with life in England.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Bill Bryson bitches his way from coast to coast!

I barely finished this. I love Bill Bryson, and maybe his own narration would have saved this for me, but the incessant whining and kvetching about the state of the union read so emphatically was trying. Maybe this was novel and clever during the Regan Administration (when this was written), but it's tiresome now. Not nearly as informative as his other works, either. Too bad I saved it as the last of his books to listen to. He's better on foreign soil, in his own voice.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Bill Bryson does America like no-one else!

Bill Bryson's ability to sum up a character in a few well-chosen words, combined with his insight into the American psyche, make this a highly enjoyable and easy-to-listen-to book. I loved it - from beginning to end.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Every bit as good

As all the others he's released. Insightful and funny.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Written by Bryson's evil twin

I have listened to every one of Bryson's audio books here on Audible.com.

I really like Bryson. He makes even the most mundane topics engrossing.

And it's not that he completely hates America. A Short Walk where he talks about hiking the Appalacian Trail is wonderful and very positive.

But in this early book his nastiness on American is not just palpable, it's suffocating.

In addition, instead of Bryson's warm, folksy reading that I have come to enjoy, William Roberts's reading makes even warm thoughts on America come out snide and snarky.

I pushed myself to listen to the whole thing so I would feel entitled to write a review.

But if I could, I would have rewound the tape to erase it from my brain.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

One of Bryson's better books.

The author and narrator were great. Much credit to both who made this book very enjoyable on a roadtrip myself.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Laugh out loud. Wonderfully presented.

Bryson is always a fun read. This was the best-performed audiobook I've ever listened to.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I had no idea who he was.

My girlfriend suggested I listen to this and I had my doubts, but I figured I had little to lose as I am always looking for a good book to listen to. I listened to this while doing a 1000km drive through my home province and a lot of what was being said really sank in and made me laugh. It's a dated book but very good.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Count's stop laughing superbly read .

What made the experience of listening to The Lost Continent the most enjoyable?

So life like with a lots of humor

What other book might you compare The Lost Continent to and why?

Down under by Bill Bryson (as well)

What about William Roberts’s performance did you like?

He is a great reader by any standard.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

7 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Miss
  • Miss
  • 04-13-13

The road trip you're dying to take

I won't be the first person to tell you that Bryson is smart, funny, and has absorbed British sarcasm by osmosis so seamlessly that it almost trumps us when narrated in the velvety American accent of the actor on this audiobook. Small town America is pulled apart, examined forensically by each of its cast of stock characters and institutions, and then put back together with a new-found affection by both you and the author. This book is like dismantling an old Chevy, finding that it still works, restoring it and then driving it around proudly. You'll feel both the European distaste for anything nouveau that Bryson has adopted, and the universal pull towards Americana. Brilliant.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for paperminx
  • paperminx
  • 05-13-19

Cringeworthy in places but still fun overall

Bryson’s works from a different time betray attitudes I do not like- particularly regarding both women and weight. On occasion, this caused me to turn the book off. However, these anachronisms aside, his words can light my day- and the actor who voices them really brings the work to life!

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Richard
  • Richard
  • 03-22-18

Cynical and occasionally unpleasant

I’m usually a fan of Bill Bryson, and I had thoroughly enjoyed ‘A Walk in the Woods’ (also read by William Roberts), so my hopes were high for ‘The Lost Continent’. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this very much for three main reasons: firstly, what is it about? With a title like ‘The Lost Continent’ I was expecting a more interesting exploration about what it means to be ‘American’. Not so: instead, this is a long road trip through small towns and large cities with no clear objective and therefore rather episodic and less compelling than ‘A Walk in the Woods’. Second, the book is dated in a bad way: references to Mexicans and ‘homos’ make you wince. But the third and biggest reason I struggled to enjoy this was because of the exhausting, unrelenting cynicism: while undertaking the kind of road trip most of us can only dream about, Mr Bryson does almost nothing but complain - at length - about the places he visits. While this is sometimes amusing, after a while it becomes monotonous. It even gets rather snobbish at times, with sweeping personal comments about people who live in ‘the South’ or in a particular place. He hates 95% of the food, the people and the places he visits, and so the ending - in which he gets sentimental about the trip coming to an end - rings false. If you like the idea of an 80s Karl Pilkington driving around America moaning about stuff, you may enjoy this much more than I did.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Salter
  • Salter
  • 09-25-17

Really enjoyable road trip...

If you could sum up The Lost Continent in three words, what would they be?

I've long harboured the idea of a road trip across America, so I'm very jealous of Bill Bryson!
His account of this trip around his home country is very enjoyable. Must say that this stage that the narration from William Roberts makes this adventure even better. He perfectly captures Brysons personality, and that shines within this book.
Starting in his home state of Iowa, Bryson first heads East, visiting the deep south and up the eastern seaboard. After a very brief stop at home, he's off west, visiting the Grand Canyon, Vegas and many more places that he's wanted to see but never got around to. All the time, he's looking for the idyllic place that he's led to believe exists somewhere in the US.
Even if you're not interested in the road trip itself, the insight into Bryson is just great, and well worth having a listen and many laughs to.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for J
  • J
  • 08-20-17

I think I've listened to enough Bill Bryson

I was excited about this as I'd enjoyed other books by Bill Bryson until I realised these books are very similar so I gave up before the end but it only cost me £1.99p so I wasn't too disappointed

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mark
  • Mark
  • 07-10-17

A terrible book

Not a journey through America but instead an incoherent rant of a what appears to be grumpy bigoted mans random thoughts. He lugs around a load of preconceived perceptions and stereotypes types of small town America and sees them everywhere he looks, mostly in strangers he doesn't know. I don't understand the point of this book

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Narny
  • Narny
  • 09-20-12

Mr Bryson does it again.....excellent.

Once again another great listen from a Mr Bryson book. His trip around nearly all the US states has it all, pride, shame, fear about his homeland but above all it's really funny. You certainly cannot accuse Mr Bryson of being completely (and typically) gung-ho about his country and compatriots and he does tell it how it is. I certainly would recommend having a map of the country handy too so you can try and follow his progress.



As for the Roberts vs Bryson debate that other reviewers mention, I think they are both great narrators. So there!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for andy
  • andy
  • 11-30-09

Bill Bryson

Have listened to this book and found it brilliant,very well written by Bryson and great narration by William Roberts. Fantastic wit, some informative insights into rural American small town life, and great when he throws in the odd 4 letter word. I will be downloading all Byrson books in the near future but only the ones with Roberts narrating, he does a wonderful job.
They make a great team. If you are like me and have looked at these books and were not sure if you would like them, just listen to one.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anthony
  • Anthony
  • 07-12-13

Fantastic!

Where does The Lost Continent rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is without doubt the best audiobook i have listened to thus far.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The only real character in the book, the man himself, Bill Bryson!

Have you listened to any of William Roberts’s other performances? How does this one compare?

This is the first time i have listened to a William Roberts performance, the man is an absolute genius. I found myself still sitting in my car long after i had parked up, still listening to him. I couldn't tear myself away!

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Apart from laugh most of the way through it, the book also brought feelings of nostalgia and that heart warming feeling you get from remembering the good times when you were a child.

Any additional comments?

I would highly recommend this audiobook to anyone i know, and everyone i don't! It is expertly read and a joy to listen to from start to finish. Another gem from Bill Bryson.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Peter
  • Peter
  • 10-01-09

Worth the subscription on its own ..

What a gem! Tasked with a new routine that involved more bus journeys, I popped this on my 'pod to accompany me to work. Bad idea. I find very few things make me laugh out loud in public but this is most definitely an exception. On more than one occasion I found myself biting into my fingers to suppress a snort of laughter when all else was calm. He writes like blokes in the pub talk; with honesty and vivid descriptions of events where you can actually see them without being there. There's the occasional expletive thrown in but used in such a way as to reveal his true feelings in certain situations. The narrator Roberts is perfect, I'm sure Bill approves.

12 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 05-21-19

Worst Bryson Book

I don’t know what happened to Mr Bryson before he wrote this book but he should avoid doing it again! I love Bill Bryson, I have all of his books and re read them many times. He is normally funny, insightful and just a great writer. But this time, he is just so arrogant, supercilious and mean. His sense of self importance and intellectual and moral superiority is very unlike him. He continually demeans and ridicules the people he meets on his travels. He is continually writing in all of his books about manners and human decency and the lack of it. Unfortunately Mr Bryson needs to practice what he preaches. Avoid this book. Any of his other books are a better choice.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for G. Harvey
  • G. Harvey
  • 08-21-17

Half glass empty.

I love bill Bryson. but I found his writing in this book somewhat depressing. he was always complaining about something. the cost of everything, the quality of the food and the service. it just went on and on. in the end, I wasn't sad that the book ended. actially it was a bit of a relief and a disappointment at the same time. looking forward to my next bb book. I will steer away from this earlier stuff tho.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Andrew MacGregor
  • Andrew MacGregor
  • 05-04-22

Love Bill Bryson

Beautifully written, educational and funny.

wonderful narrator, really enjoyed the accents etc

loved it, highly recommended.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Deirdre E Siegel
  • Deirdre E Siegel
  • 03-23-22

…chortles, giggles, snorts and laughter all way :-)

Yet another glimpse of life through Bill Bryson’s eye,
this is a memorable drive through States United in America
as only a born and breed citizen on a visit can describe.
Thank you Mr Bryson for a this thought provoking work
and Mr Roberts for yet another marvellous narrative :-)

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 02-13-22

Early Bryson, with hints of later, better books

I heard elements and hints of The Thunderbolt Kid and A Walk in the Woods here, both of those better written, funnier and less caustic books. I usually prefer titles narrated by the author him/herself, but I enjoyed William Roberts' performance here.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jessica
  • Jessica
  • 02-05-22

Hasn't aged well

Just an expat complaining about his hometown. Any time he seems slightly aware that he's being a jerk, he reminds the reader his family is connected to these places, like that gives him a pass. Repeatedly calling people fat and making judgments on their intelligence is ultimately just lazy, unimaginative writing that's best left to the past.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-22-22

what can I say Bryson at his best yet again,

another great story from Bill Bryson, and William Roberts performance just brings the story to life. from beginning to end a great listen

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 12-27-21

Give it a miss

Overall pretty disappointed. It stunk of liberal superiority mocking middle America of their quirks. Glad it was complimentary, I would have been gutted to waste a credit on it

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Cheryl
  • Cheryl
  • 12-09-21

a trip through America

Enjoyed Bill's trip through middle America, pretty much unknown to me, with my knowledge based on what I've seen on TV. sometimes memories should stay just that.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Brydi
  • Brydi
  • 11-28-21

Kinda judgy

Tbh I loved a short history of nearly everything and was keen for more, but I can't get past the first chapter. It's just continuous judgemental ranting. Maybe I'm just salty because I grew up rural and I don't appreciate people inaccurately claiming rural people are all dumb and fat.