Subtitled “Sound Bytes from the Consumer Culture”, this is a curious book by a self-described nerd and enthusiast, being at once a polemic, a reference book, a trivia pop-quiz. And it is also charmingly interspersed now and again with nostalgic essays about toy cap-guns, fins on automobiles, old movie palaces and the author’s favorite aunt, who was the hair-dresser who first dyed Elvis Presley’s hair black. The various timelines are broken out – eccentrically by topics large and small; movies, cars, pop music, sports, gossip, toys, what the author refers to as ‘hysterical’ events – and a category which I found to be the most purely interesting – the ‘comfort zone’.

This is a listing of the first appearance of all sorts of oddities and inventions, most of which we take for granted in the modern world, things like toothbrushes, bottled ketchup, camera film, soft drinks and soda fountains, canned milk and canned pineapple. Curiously, many of them appeared rather earlier than most of us would assume; all of those mentioned appeared not in the 20th century… but in the 19th. Who would have thought that there was a refrigerated railway car in the 1860’s? Or that the first electric Christmas tree lights appeared in 1882? Chapter 2 is full of little curiosities like that; proof that many of the things that we happily use and consume have been around for decades… and possibly even centuries.

Timeline of America is an eccentric book – but consistently amusing and informative. It is published by iUniverse, and available on Amazon.com. The author is also a member of the Independent Authors Guild, and his website is here.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here, and her upcoming release, “The Adelsverein Trilogy” will be available in December. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com.

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