True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, And Other States that Never Made It
By Michael J. Trinklein
When I was a kid I had a wooden puzzle of the United States. Each state fit into its place, and that's the way I learned the map. There were 50 little pieces. Alabama was red, but I don't remember any of the other colors. We're so used to the way our country is laid out that it's hard to think of it any other way. But what if there were a few more pieces to that puzzle? Greenland, for instance. Or the state of New Sweden? And right in the middle of Georgia there could be a cut-out for the Republic of Trans-Oconee. While our nation was still being divided up and parceled out, there were many proposals from folks who wanted to set up their own states. Some people still do! The proposed state of Lincoln would take parts of Washington and Idaho to create a new state along the Canadian border. It's not simply a passing notion, it has actually come up for debate in Idaho's House of Representatives and the Washington State Senate. If the idea of these many almost-states piques your curiosity, check out this book. Each imagined land has a two-page spread giving a brief history and featuring a map that shows where the state would be if it had been admitted.
If you're more interested in the states we actually have, but wonder why they're shaped so oddly, you might try How The States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein. This book will tell you all about the border lines of your favorite states. For instance, why Georgia seems to lean into Alabama. (Hint: It has to do with coal mining.)
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Review by Danny Hanbery