Review: Lost States

Lost States: Real Quests for American Statehood
by Michael J. Trinklein
CreateSpace, 2008. Softcover, 95 pp. ISBN-13 978-1438215334

Book cover: Lost States Lost States: Real Quests for American Statehood chronicles 42 proposals for U.S. statehood that never went anywhere (though some very nearly did). I had no idea there were so many of them. They range from the nutty to the serious, from the Revolution to recently, and from the Atlantic (Iceland?) to the Pacific (the Philippines). They cover the whole gamut: alternative ways of dividing up the territory west of the Thirteen Colonies after the Revolution; partition movements within states (several for Texas and California, but even smaller states like Maine and Alaska — smaller by population, wiseass — have them); new states carved from several adjacent states (a refigured Idaho, statehood for the Navajo nation); more straightforward (and familiar) statehood movements; and annexation proposals.

This self-published little gem is beautifully laid out and engagingly written. Trinklein, a former university professor and PBS documentary maker, brings plenty of funny to the table; his prose is light, entertaining and accessible. While the maps are pretty good (with the boundaries and names superimposed on contemporary maps) the stories behind the proposals are what really make this book: stories of congressmen, adventurers, disgruntled corners of states, and other assorted whackjobs. Really, he should have a blog or something.

As a print-on-demand title, Lost States is a little pricier than regularly published books, I think, but if you’re a fan of the kind of material that appears on Strange Maps, you should grab it. Now.

I received a review copy of this book from the author.