My work has a book exchange as part of our Christmas party every year. The only rule is that the book needs to be related to history in some way. Last year I picked up Mark Stein’s How the States Got Their Shapes and was pretty excited about it since I really enjoyed the History Channel show of the same name. The show is quick and witty and I thought surely the book would be the same. And have some additional information that the show did not.
Not really on both counts.
Is it a bad book? No. What it really is, is a reference book. At a certain point you don’t need to keep reading, since each state’s border generally appears in at least two different chapters. The states are rundown in alphabetical order, as opposed to grouping them thematically, so there is really no reason to read the book from cover to cover.
I ended up reading this book as a palate cleanser in between other books, or when something would make me think of a certain state. A couple dozen pages here, a couple dozen pages there. Read one, skip a few, you get the idea.
Would I suggest the book to you? Maybe is about as firm as I’m willing to go. But I do suggest watching the show, for what it’s worth. (How often do you get a TV recommendation on a book review site? Probably not that often.)
This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.