Book Review: How The States Got Their Shapes

The review at Blogcritics.

This is actually a very interesting book, though I know many people wouldn’t believe it just from the title.  I mean, just look at a map sometime — some of these states have some strange shapes. There are some fun stories in here, a lot of interesting facts, and some great maps (if you’re into that sort of thing).

You find out a lot of things about geography, surveying, early American politics, and some economic history, too, because all of these things (as well as some plain old human error) factor into the boundaries of each of our states. You find out that some states (ahem, Maryland) routinely got hosed when it came time for territory discussions and map drawing. Other states had some people in Washington on their side, and got more than they originally wanted. At the very least, this is a great book to use to win a few trivia contests with your friends.

It’s not an exhaustive book. It’s not written on a scholarly level. And a lot of people who reviewed it for Librarything didn’t like it. But I enjoyed it, and would use it if I was teaching a history class, or a geography class. And I recommend it to anyone who is even a bit of a history buff.


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