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Images of America

“Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunimagees together.
I’ve got some real estate here in my bag.”
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner pies
And walked off to look for America.

—“America” by Paul Simon

They don’t sell Mrs. Wagner’s Pies anymore, not that they ever did here out west, and romantic as it sounds, I don’t have the time to search for the heart of our great nation on foot. Fortunately for me and other sedentary types, there’s a perfect way to explore America’s big cities and back roads without ever leaving our easy chairs. Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series catalogs our country’s character as well as anything ever has; you can peruse these volumes and understand more about America than any vagabond or rail-rider learns in a lifetime, Whitman, Steinbeck, and Kerouac included.

State by state, county by county, town by town, and even hamlet by hamlet, they visually document history as it’s really lived. Monuments and major events get appropriate coverage, but it’s the details of everyday life that make each book so memorable. Did your grandfather hail from Beaufort, North Carolina (current pop. 4094)? There, in sharp black-and-white pictures, is the town he knew. Maybe your mom grew up in the fourth-largest county by acreage in the continental US, Elko County, Nevada. There before you are the settlers and the sagebrush. With more than 8500 volumes in the series, almost every square on the American cultural quilt is represented.

We in Washington will of course be most interested in our own part in history...Read More