Monday, December 29, 2014

Boundaries (2014)

Boundaries. Sally M. Walker. 2014. Candlewick. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

While American history is not my favorite subject, I did enjoy various aspects of Boundaries: How The Mason-Dixon Line Settled A Family Feud and Divided a Nation. I can appreciate the thoroughness of the research and the organization of the narrative.

It's a broad subject. The book begins in England and follows two men who established colonies in the New World. One man, a Catholic, the second man, a Quaker. One would establish Maryland, the other would establish Pennsylvania. It follows those two families for a chapter or two pointing out the disputes and troubles regarding the border or boundary between the two colonies. It points out that there were regions that BOTH claimed and that BOTH tried to tax settlers. So one governing body could say pay taxes to me, not them. Readers could see how residents could find it frustrating and confusing. Most of the book, however, is about two men, two scientists: Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. It goes into great detail about HOW the two men surveyed the land, walked the three lines to establish boundaries. It is very science-y, very technical. It shares details about their work, their crews, their journeys, their guides, etc. This project lasted several years. One chapter focuses on the Mason-Dixon line as symbol of free states and slave states, a division of North and South. That chapter discusses about two hundred years worth of history. The last chapter is an odd one. It brings the Mason-Dixon line into contemporary times; it speaks of the men and women who have taken an interest in it, have taken an interest in the boundary stones, who have set off on a quest to find the original markers, or, who have worked to get historical markers for the region in various locations.

I found this one to be a bit dry in places.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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