Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book Review: Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It

We recently received a review copy of Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It by Michael Trinklein and published by Quirk Books. The book is a marvelous coffee-table book that combines the appeal of cartophilia that Strange Maps has with apocryphal American history.

Many states require lessons in state history to be taught in primary and secondary school. These classes are good but are pretty much cookie cutter classes which give the impression that the creation of the state was pretty much predetermined. Very few discuss efforts by locals in the past to either create alternative states or even secede from the original state.

Lost States is a humorous survey of dozens of efforts to create states. Some are efforts by the United States to annex foreign territories like Cuba, Greenland, and Iceland. Others are efforts to create homelands like the Presbyterian, anti-Catholic state of Hazard or the American Indian state of Sequoyah. A third category are efforts by locals to keep tax funds in the area like Jefferson or Superior. A fourth major category are alternative boundaries like the various Dakotas, Arizonas/New Mexicos, and Minnesotas.

As mentioned above the book is a brief survey with only a page of text and a map page dedicated to each lost state. However, Trinklein makes sure one knows that this is not an exhaustive study with his introduction stating “This book isn't meant to offer exhaustive detail on every unsuccessful statehood proposal; rather, the goal is to pique your curiosity, instill a sense of wonder, and enjoy a laugh or two.” There is a bibliography in back that does allow one to dig deeper if desired.

If one wants a humorous trip into American historical geography and do not mind a lack of in-depth detail, then Lost States is the book for you.


Confini amministrativi - Riigipiirid - Political borders said...

I bought this book at once! Thank You so much!
Visit me back, please: I am showing the border between Japan and Russia today (Str. La Pèrouse, between Hokkaido and Sakhalin) and how it was before 1945 (North Sakhalin Soviet and South Sakhalin Japanese).
Best wishes!

SirChirol said...

Great catch. I hadn't heard about this but it's a great addition to "How the States Got Their Shapes"

Just ordered this one.

J said...

For some reason, this post has me thinking about the map featured at the beginning of Harry Turtledove's and Richard Dreyfuss's
alternative history novel, "The Two Georges"....

Anyhow, this book will make at least an excellent suggestion for my local library.

And--hey, waitasec--when did we want to annex Iceland??!

Alison McGaughey said...

For those of you interested in this Lost States book: I was lucky to do a Q&A with the author, Michael J. Trinklein. Please check it out here!

Catholicgauze said...

Thanks for sharing, Alison!