How the States Got Their Shapes

How the States Got Their Shapes

by Mark Stein

Hardcover

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Overview

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 Pennsylvania
  • Why Michigan has an upper peninsula that isn't attached to Michigan
  • Why some Hawaiian islands are not Hawaii
  • Why 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781606711453
Publisher: MJF Books
Publication date: 07/13/2012
Sales rank: 103,512
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

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. He has taught writing and drama at American University and Catholic University and lives in Washington, D.C.

What People are Saying About This

Andro Linklater

“For anyone who’s been confounded by the largest of all jigsaw puzzles, the one that carved out those fifty weirdly formed states, here is the solution. It’s history, it’s geography, it’s comedy, it’s indispensable.”

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How the States Got Their Shapes 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lots of great information in this book. Occasionally I'd like there to have been more depth, but that's not really what this book is about. It gives you a starting point if you want to explore more of the fascinating and quirky history regarding many of the shapes of the states. Many of the borders are based on rivers, but also on the Dutch, English, various wars, various treaties, discovery of gold and silver, the Missouri Compromise and Slave vs. Free states, and Congress's desire for 'equality' of width and height.
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JIMPNY More than 1 year ago
too bad the author cannot write in an engaging manner. A tough and boring read at best.