Here Is Where chronicles Andrew Carroll’s eye-opening – and at times hilarious -- journey across America to find and explore unmarked historic sites where extraordinary moments occurred and remarkable individuals once lived. Sparking the idea for this book was Carroll’s visit to the spot where Abraham Lincoln’s son was saved by the brother of Lincoln’s assassin. Carroll wondered, How many other unmarked places are there where intriguing events have unfolded and that we walk past every day, not realizing their significance? To answer that question, Carroll ultimately trekked to every region of the country -- by car, train, plane, helicopter, bus, bike, and kayak and on foot. Among the things he learned:
*Where in North America the oldest sample of human DNA was discovered
* Where America’s deadliest maritime disaster took place, a calamity worse than the fate of the Titanic
*Which virtually unknown American scientist saved hundreds of millions of lives
*Which famous Prohibition agent was the brother of a notorious gangster
*How a 14-year-old farm boy’s brainstorm led to the creation of television
Featured prominently in Here Is Where are an abundance of firsts (from the first use of modern anesthesia to the first cremation to the first murder conviction based on forensic evidence); outrages (from riots to massacres to forced sterilizations); and breakthroughs (from the invention, inside a prison, of a revolutionary weapon; to the recovery, deep in the Alaskan tundra, of a super-virus; to the building of the rocket that made possible space travel). Here Is Where is thoroughly entertaining, but it’s also a profound reminder that the places we pass by often harbor amazing secrets and that there are countless other astonishing stories still out there, waiting to be found.
Combining a travelogue with a series of lost historical stories, Here is Where takes the readers on a road-trip across America, ignoring the more famous landmarks in favour of the forgotten places, many of them ignored even by people who live a few steps away. From milestones in science to first legal victories, from horrific massacres to the building of rockets, Andrew Carroll’s fascinating journey reminds that there are hidden stories just waiting to be found, many of them in our own back yards.
Here is Where does a great job of exploring lost, forgotten and ignored stories from American history, spanning centuries and moving from one coast to the other. Along the way, Carroll’s funny, depreciating and well-informed voice provides a great companion, spending just enough time on his own (mis)adventures before sharing some true jewels of lost history. The book is split into sections, from legal decisions to scientific breakthroughs, so you are likely to find something that will interest you. Although I skipped around in the medical section, the rest of it was intriguing enough to keep my attention and the pages flipping. I’m a Jehovah’s Witness, so I was especially thrilled to see him exploring a milestone decision from the Supreme Court in the first half of the 20th century regarding a couple of Witness children expelled from their school for refusing to salute the flag. All of the stories are interesting, many of them deserve to be remembered more than they are. Carroll has done a great job bringing them to people’s attention.
I gave Here is Where 4 stars.