How the States Got Their Shapes Too by Mark Stein

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Synopsis

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 real mystery begins. Every edge of the familiar wooden jigsaw pieces of our childhood represents a revealing moment of history and of, well, humans drawing lines in the sand.

How the States Got Their Shapes is the first book to tackle why our state lines are where they are. Here are the stories behind the stories, right down to the tiny northward jog at the eastern end of Tennessee and the teeny-tiny (and little known) parts of Delaware that are not attached to Delaware but to New Jersey.

How the States Got Their Shapes examines:

Why West Virginia has a finger creeping up the side of PennsylvaniaWhy Michigan has an upper peninsula that isn't attached to MichiganWhy some Hawaiian islands are not HawaiiWhy Texas and California are so outsized, especially when so many Midwestern states are nearly identical in size

Packed with fun oddities and trivia, this entertaining guide also reveals the major fault lines of American history, from ideological intrigues and religious intolerance to major territorial acquisitions. Adding the fresh lens of local geographic disputes, military skirmishes, and land grabs, Mark Stein shows how the seemingly haphazard puzzle pieces of our nation fit together perfectly.

 

About Mark Stein

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MARK STEIN is a playwright and screenwriter. His plays have been performed off-Broadway and at theaters throughout the country. His films include Housesitter with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. Stein has also taught writing and drama at American University and Catholic University. His previous book, How the States Got Their Shapes, a New York Times bestseller, was the basis for The History Channel's documentary of the same name.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published May 27, 2008 by Smithsonian. 352 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Travel, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for How the States Got Their Shapes Too

Publishers Weekly

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America's first century was defined by expansion and the negotiation of territories among areas colonized by the French and Spanish, or occupied by natives. The exact location of borders became paramo

Jun 02 2008 | Read Full Review of How the States Got Their Shap...

BC Books

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A fascinating history of how the borders were drawn in the United States.

Sep 09 2008 | Read Full Review of How the States Got Their Shap...

BC Books

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Looking at a map of the United States, one of the first things you notice is the varied shapes and sizes of the states.

Sep 09 2008 | Read Full Review of How the States Got Their Shap...

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