Remember once upon a time when I used to do occasional Monday morning book reviews? I’m back at it! Check out past reviews here, or my reading logs since 2008 here.
Here is Where:Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History, by Andrew Carroll
Where to start with this one… I’ve been reading off and on since September of last year and I finally finished it up. It’s not so much that it was boring as it was just very (very) long, stuffed with stories in such digestible bite-sized chunks that it was all too easy to read a chapter or two at a time and get distracted by something else.
The premise is what drew me in: the author travels across the country looking for forgotten pieces of American history, meeting a ton of interesting people who help him along the way as he unearths the lost details behind each story. There are several really interesting topics (my favorites were the search for the Spanish Flu virus and the first person to be cremated) and many of them intersected in unusual ways, so that was cool. Most of the chapters were only a few pages long and gave the bare bones of the story, but I was often left with a feeling of “…so?” at the end of each chapter. It was hard to feel connected to many of the stories because the context kept jumping around across time periods, subjects, and geography. And since most of the history was forgotten, the actual location had often been covered up by a parking lot or was just an empty field. The author talked a lot about taking pictures everywhere (and the weird stares he would get), and I get the need to document it, but it seems like the words would have to be enough since, you know… it’s just a parking lot now, whatever it used to be.
It wrapped up pretty nicely with a full circle moment about learning from the past that was missing from the rest of the book and a funny story about the FBI investigating his activity when he was looking for an old plane crash that happened to be on a restricted military base. Overall, the lack of a cohesive theme to tie everything together gave it a scattered feel, but it was full of interesting trivia and a fun road trip.
***I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.***