Regular price: $19.95

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

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.

©2008 Mark Stein (P)2011 Christy Mirabal

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    6
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    15
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

  • 3.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    6
  • 4 Stars
    9
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    5

Story

  • 3.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    8
  • 4 Stars
    10
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    3
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Terrible Book for Audio -- Try the Print Version

Of maybe 200 or so Audible books I have listened to, this is the first that listening rather than reading the book was a huge obstacle. I knew this might be an issue but I figured a) I know state shapes pretty well so can probably follow most of it without looking at a map, and b) if I need to look at a map, I can just google it a check. I was wrong. The book is interesting because he deals with all sorts of little zigs and zags in state lines that you'd never see in a standard U.S. map; so, even a fairly decent knowledge of state outlines didn't help much. Moreover, you can't just look at the map for a minute and then follow the rest of the chapter. He deals with things very quickly. Accordingly, I found myself needing to recheck different parts of the map every 30-45 seconds. This made listening to the book while driving or at the gym virtually impossible. I suppose if you were just sitting on your couch listening and not multi-tasking, you could just keep Googling different maps and follow along. But that certainly isnt how I use Audible books. Also, at different times you need different types of maps--sometimes you need latitude & longitude, sometimes you need terrain, sometimes you need the names of small rivers and towns. I imagine that in the print version you get the map you need for that section on the page. Here though, in one 4 minute chapter, you might find yourself needing to google three different types of maps.

Also, this book goes alphabetically rather than geographically. That is, instead of discussing the New York-Vermont border once, you get most of the story in the New York chapter and then some slightly different but mostly redundant version of the story 15 states later in the Vermont section. There are some borders for which you hear the same story at least three or four different times. If this were in print, you could skip the repetitive stuff, but the audio format makes jumping around like that very difficult.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

great info, but...

this book should be a bathroom book. it's too disconnected to enjoy through. narrator is good.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Good information, very repetitive often dull

Where does How the States Got Their Shapes rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Its average wish information was told in a more interesting way

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Inject humor, provide more emotion and storytelling to the facts

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Doesn't lend it self to audio

What disappointed you about How the States Got Their Shapes?

Good book just didn't really work as an audiobook. Recommend the kindle or print versions though.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Boring, but informative

So many phrases and terms are repeated throughout this "book" that it all blends together at some point. There also many points at which they gloss over tragedies and black eyes of American history, like referring to the US government's complicity in assassinating several Native American chief to get their land in Arkansas as "bad events," and similar unfortunate turns of phrase.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • joan
  • YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY, United States
  • 01-02-16

should be uch more engaging

This book title intrigued me as I'm a bit of a history buff but it really didn't tell me stuff more than was either obvious or uninteresting.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • David
  • New Hill, NC, United States
  • 01-16-12

Presentation too monotonous and dull

Would you try another book from Mark Stein and/or Brian Holsopple?

yes

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Find myself not paying attention because of the monotonous and dull presentation. Couldn't listen to it.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Patrick
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 11-29-11

Hard to absorb without a map in front of you

We tried listening to this book while on a long drive. Our geographic knowledge of each states' borders is not detailed, so it was difficult to understand many of the stories without a map in front of you to make constant reference. While interesting subject matter, we intend to take up this book again when we can look at maps as the narrative is delivered.