Barbara K. (Brooklyn, NY)
America the Beautiful
State by State is beautifully written and informative.
Each author focuses on his or her experience in that state and this personal view left a lasting impression on me. Also,there are 30 interesting comparison tables on topics such as cigarette & oil consumption , & education expenditure per pupil. In addition, each state 'story' is preceded by a list of facts such as state capital, bird, flower, tree, motto etc. which can be helpful to crossword puzzle enthusiasts.
My only criticism is that some stories are too skewed, focusing only on a city or a certain aspect of that city while ignoring the rest of the state.
However, this book has intensified my love for the United States and her people. It would appeal to all who are curious about our country. State by State will enrich a classroom and school library.
TCT South Kingstown, RI
If you think even for a second that this book might be fun, of interest or perhaps even provocative - then follow your instincts. It is fun, interesting and provocative. The stories that are told are hilarious, poignant, raunchy, layered and deeply personal. I was interested in this book when it was first published but hesitated to buy it. I jumped at the chance to review it and I have not been disappointed - and in fact feel lucky to have been handed a copy.
Dorothy M. (Maynard, MA)
What you don't know about America
Inspired by a WPA project that produced books about each state and dedicated to the proposition that although the country is being increasingly homogenized the states still retain unique characteristics, this book consists of 50 essays by 50 exceptional writers – one per state. Unlike the WPA books, these are not travelogues but widely varied responses to each state based on the experience of the writer. Each state essay is preceded by a page of the state statistics that you had to learn in the 5th grade with a section of more esoteric statistics at the back. They also include a photo for each state chosen by the writer – Maine is the most surprising.
The writers grew up in their state and never left, grew up in their state and couldn’t wait to leave, came to the state as adults or – in a few cases – seem to be just idly passing through. The formats of the essays are eclectic including a graphic essay and an interview with “the state.” Some are very poignant and some are quite humorous. John Hodgman (you know him best as PC in the Apple ads) uses his sly wit to send up the Bay Staters who remain convinced that Massachusetts – or at least Boston – is truly the hub of the universe. Dave Eggers writes a very American style love letter to Illinois (we’re #1) stressing it’s most important residents – Lincoln and Oprah. Some of the essays cover the entire state. Others concentrate on a specific area. They may deal with state politics, state history, resident temperaments, the author’s specific experience or the beauty of the environment. Most of the environmental ones often also mourn the loss of much of that beauty.
This is a collection well worth reading – put it on your night stand and dip into a state or two a night. You will learn a lot about the country and at the very least, it will improve your Jeopardy scores.
Patricia H. (Norman, OK)
State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America
I truly enjoyed this book and I will continue to find it useful as time goes on. Not only is there an intriguing essay about each state but also there is an opening page for each state providing a variety of geo-political and cultural information about each, as well as some comparison tables in the appendix.
Since one can easily skip around I quickly went to each of the states in which I have lived since I was a child. I found the essays really captured my recollections of each state. I currently reside in Oklahoma and was thoroughly amused by Ms. Hinton's final comments.
Since Oklahoma also suffered one of the biggest terrorist attacks on US soil she felt that people around the world would have an example of the nobility and grace, with which Americans can cope with such disater and would understand why she chooses to live here. Instead they still ask why Oklahoma?
Even if you have never spent time anywhere else in the US, you can enjoy true reflections of the good, the bad and the beautiful about each state.
Well done, I say.