Written by travel writer Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America is a recollection of his journey around the United States in the late eighties. Bryson traveled almost 14,000 miles from his own small town of Des Moines, Iowa, taking in other small towns in the Deep South, California, and New England. A significant theme that you should consider, therefore, is small-town America. Another important theme is American history.
As Bryson travels around the United States, he is in search of the perfect small-town—longing to find the small towns he remembers from his youth. He recollects the beauty around them, the pretty main streets, white wooden churches, and small shops. He also reminisces about the friendliness of the residents and the strength of community. However, what he finds are over-development, strip malls, and fast-food joints.
And before long there will be no more milk in bottles delivered to the doorstep or sleepy rural pubs, and the countryside will be mostly shopping centers and theme parks. Forgive me, I don't mean to get upset. But you are taking my world away from me piece by little piece, and sometimes it just pisses me off.
Bryson is also unhappy that many of the towns he visits are being overwhelmed by the cities that are stretching ever closer. He is also critical of the way that people in these communities think about the world.
Another important theme in The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America is American history. During his journey, Bryson visits many national parks and national monuments. He thinks about the past and important historical figures and events: for example, President Eisenhower, President Abraham Lincoln, and the Gettysburg Address.