How The States Got Their Shapes — Mark Stein

A couple of years ago, the History Channel aired a two-hour special of the same name that explored the quirky history of our states’ borders. Of course, the scope of this topic could not be addressed fully in two hours, so I decided to buy the book, hoping it would be as good as the show. I was not disappointed. Mark Stein is a playwright and screenwriter by trade, but I think that makes this book more readable. Geography isn’t the most exciting topic, but Stein infuses his book with a sense of humor and unique trivia to explain why our states look the way they do. The only issue I had with this book is that Stein organized it alphabetically instead of regionally; I found myself flipping back and forth to read about the connections between states with common borders, which was distracting. Still, I found this to be a fresh perspective on a dry topic and enjoyed reading it. 4 out of 5 stars.