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The Rating Guide to Life in America's 50 States

The Rating Guide to Life in America's 50 States

by G. Scott Thomas

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Thomas, the author of "The Rating Guide to Life in America's Small Cities" (Prometheus, 1990), uses statistics from a variety of sources to rank the 50 states. H. L. Mencken rated them, based on approximately 100 statistics, in the September 1931 issue of "American Mercury". His objective was to find "the worst American State"; he proclaimed Mississippi the "winner." (Massachusetts placed first in his quality-of-life index.) John Gunther traveled to all 48 states in preparation for writing "Inside U.S.A." (1947). His objective was to determine what made each state different from the others. While he used statistics, he also relied on firsthand observations to grade the states Thomas has combined Mencken's and Gunther's views: statistics can pinpoint the best--and worst--states (Mencken), and numbers can identify what makes each state unique (Gunther). His 24 categories include the expected ones: natural resources, such as crude oil reserves and timberland; health, showing major causes of death and number of doctors; racial equality, demonstrating minority college graduates and minority businesses; housing, displaying housing costs and housing size; and education, with high-school dropouts and education spending. Other categories include sports, public safety, politics, and international relations (foreign employers, export-related jobs, foreign-born populations). For each section, Thomas asks a "big question": for example, in history, "Which state has had the richest past, both in terms of historic events and famous people?" In each category, he discusses how he arrived at the figures, which was the best state and which was the worst, the regional winners in the category, the biggest surprise, and the bottom line. He concludes by ranking the states and devising a report card for each state, examining strengths and weaknesses. Thomas provides a list of sources and a brief glossary. His cutoff date was May 1, 1993 "The Rating Guide to Life in America's 50 States" will not replace such tools as "Places Rated Almanac" or others that rank "cities" by quality of life; its scope is broader than those books. It can provide guidance for people seeking information about a state either with a view to moving there or for school assignments. A topical index would be useful; however, the lack of one is not cause for rejecting the book. It will be useful in school, public, and academic libraries.
Assesses the quality of life in the states using 125 statistical categories, such as terrain, resources, environment, health, racial equality, arts, business, transportation, and public safety. Each state is rated in every area and ranked from best to worst. Paper edition (unseen), $19.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Prometheus Books
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6.35(w) x 9.33(h) x 1.67(d)

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