The Best Poor Man's Country: Early Southeastern Pennsylvania Paperback – Sep 25 2002
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This book deserves careful attention... Lemon is a professional geographer, but historians will read his book as an imaginative approach to social history. The Best Poor Man's Country is a distinguished and important book. American Historical Review
About the Author
James T. Lemon is a professor emeritus of geography at the University of Toronto.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book is a geographic study, and the language of academic geography is not readily accessible to most Americans, who have no background in true geographic thought, even those with an adequate understanding of and interest in popular geography. For example, Lemon's lengthy academic exercise, wherein he assesses how well settlement patterns and land uses approximate von Thunen's agricultural land use model is a bit of a slog - good academic prose, but a bit arcane of a subject even for today's academic geographers or college students.
Certainly, reading The Best Poor Man's Country is not like reading a book by John McPhee, nor was it meant to be. Lemon does not set out to weave a good yarn, where curiosity-driven diversions are neatly tied together as a piece of creative non-fiction. Instead, he follows a very careful and thorough, albeit somewhat dry, scientific tradition; he wrestles with a lot of data for the purpose of making a convincing and interesting argument, and then makes it again from other angles in subsequent chapters, and perhaps develops it a little deeper, too. He demonstrates that geographic ideas and theories and a lot of historical documents can be used to reconstruct and explain how and why early southeastern Pennsylvania developed in the way that it did. This secondary purpose, common in academic studies, can obfuscate the plainer story summed up in the words of the title.
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