In my first effort to get back in the blogging saddle, I'm going to repeat something I already wrote on the internet. Baby steps!
I just finished this book called Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It. As you will be able to tell from my Goodreads review, it did not live up to my expectations:
I saw this book come through at my library, and I thought "What a great topic for a book!" And it is a great topic. It's too bad it was, in my opinion, really mishandled.
The book has quite a bit of breadth (74 "states" are covered), but no depth. Each "state" gets two pages, one of which is a full-page map. The facing page contains more pictures (which are often only tangentially related to the topic); lots of tepid, uncreative jokes; and a little information.
The maps range from interesting to out-and-out bad (one clearly has hand-drawn marker on it; one has Wyoming on the western border of Kansas--which is the reason I downgraded the book from two stars). I think there were . . . maybe four? historical facts that I learned from a 160-page book, but the history was, in places, just as bad as the maps (quote: "[George Washington] was the most popular and powerful man in the world." WILDLY FALSE. WILDLY.)
I don't know who this book is aimed at. It doesn't give enough background information to teach much to American history novices (it would have helped a little if the order of the "states" were chronological instead of alphabetical), and it's too superficial to teach anything to people who already have solid American history background.
In short, this is a book with the pace and tone of an Uncle John's Bathroom Reader, but without the depth or intelligence.
Saturday, November 6, 2010