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Preview — How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein
How the States Got Their Shapes
Why does Oklahoma have that panhandle? Did someone make a mistake?
We are so familiar with the map of the United States that our state borders seem as much a part of nature as mountains and rivers. Even the oddities—the entire state of Maryland(!)—have become so engrained that our map might as well be a giant jigsaw puzzle designed by Divine Providence. But that's where the...more
This book at first fascinated me. I love history, and I love maps even more. I can just sit and look at a map for hours, running my mind over the lay of the land. So, I was hooked. How did West Virginia get that little finger of land that reaches toward Pittsburgh? Why aren't Vermont and New Hampshire just one regular-sized state? Why did Wyoming take a bite out of Utah, and not th ...more
1. There was a whole lot of bad surveying going on.
2. Panhandles are the most telling of the political atmosphere back then. Oklahoma has a panhandle because Texas wanted to be a slave state. Florida has a panhandle because it w ...more
This book is about as compelling and forgettable as those "Brain Quest" trivia cards, and poorly written. I gritted my teeth through the first several chapters that Professor Stein begins with "How come...?" Why not "why?" Or better still, why not acknow ...more
So ultimately, the only problem that i've got with Mr Stein's presentation is that i've come to read the book through the (in my eyes more than excellent) television series of the same name, where the various conflicts, clashes of interest and ...more
That said, it's actually surprising how logical a lot of the state boundaries ended up being. In the east, a lot of it is due to where rivers create natural boundaries. This plays out elsewhere in ...more
Thoughts: On the whole, I really enjoyed this book. The stories behind the state lines is fascinating (did you know that the NY/NJ state line was in dispute even up until the 1990s? I sure didn't! And poor Maryland - it contested the placement of every one of its borders, and lost every. single. time.). Ste ...more
And how much was decided by somewhat random chance. Like someone screwed up the survey. Or someone read the royal decree wrong. ...more
If, however, despite all that is written above you find repetitveness, poor organization, and failed attempts at grandiose statements and/or humor, perhaps you should pass. This was a pretty poorly written book. It was organized alphabeti ...more
This book takes an interesting approach to U.S. history by explaining why the states have the shapes that they do. I never really had a reason to question why the states are shap ...more
It's a pleasant surprise that he makes it so interest ...more
In a nutshell, the shapes of our states have EVERYTHING to do with politics. Think Louisiana Purchase, Native American treaties, colonial grants with Spain, France and England. Some of what I found interesting was the extend lawmakers went to to try and ensure "fairness" in the western states in regards to s ...more
I have to admit that I thought that state lines were often delineated using obvious means, but this book proves that this assumption i ...more
It's apparent the furthe ...more
Part of the problem might be that I got the Kindle edition, which reall ...more