How the States Got Their Shapes


Why does West Virginia have a finger creeping up the side of Pennsylvania? Why are California and Texas so large when so many of the states in the Midwest are roughly the same size and shape? Why are Alabama and Mississippi almost exact mirror images of each other?

Mark Stein provided answers to these questions, and many more, when he discussed and signed his new book, “How the States Got Their Shapes,” in a program sponsored by the Center for the Book. The author used the Library’s Geography and Map Division and other Library resources in his research.

The map of the United States is so familiar that its state borders seem as much a part of nature as mountains and rivers, Stein says. “How the States Got Their Shapes” is the first book to explain why state lines are where they are. Anecdotal in nature, the guide reveals the moments in American history that put the giant jigsaw puzzle of the nation together.

Speaker Biography: Mark Stein is a playwright and screenwriter. His plays have been performed off-Broadway and at theaters around the country. His films include “Housesitter” with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. He has taught writing and drama at American University and Catholic University and lives in Washington, D.C.



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