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James Hoobler is the authority other Nashville historians turn to when they don't know the answers. The Senior Curator of Art and Architecture at the Tennessee State Museum as well as Curator of the State Capitol, Hoobler shares his encyclopedic knowledge of the city in his latest book, A Guide to Historic Nashville, Tennessee. It's a tour guide with heart - the compelling preface exhorts readers to enlist in the "battle for preservation" and hammers home its point by showing some of the buildings, many of them true gems, that have been leveled in the name of "progress." The informative introduction reminds us that a number of historic homes do remain, some open to the public.
The first of the two major divisions of the book is called "Downtown Nashville Walking Tours." This section provides descriptions of six pleasant strolls, from the Riverfront to Capitol Hill, with easy-to-follow maps. Five "Nashville Driving Tours" in the second section take us to Music Row, Battle of Nashville sites, university campuses, historic neighborhoods, and the city's timeless and elegant cemeteries. Hoobler's appealing narrative describes everything from mummies to streetcars, whiskey to Goo-Goo Clusters, and then concludes with a brief bibliography, listing some of the area's best reference works for readers who want more.
The book's only shortcoming stems from the publisher's insistence on illustrating it with black and white photos the size of postage stamps (a series imperative). Fortunately for us, though, Hoobler has taken most of the pictures himself, so they are bright and clear, showing each site to good advantage . . . they make me think of those little green six-ounce Coke bottles we used to buy that always left us wanting more! So take this book in hand and set out to explore Historic Nashville in the spellbinding company of one of the city's most knowledgeable story tellers. And bring your camera!
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