When I initially signed on to review this book, I had both hoped and expected to find one of those odd little collections of weird and paranormal trivia — you know: ghosts, haunted houses, and the like — that I will readily admit to being a guilty pleasure of mine.
So in that sense, the title Strange But True America is a bit misleading. You might say the "strange" moniker leans a little more towards the "odd and whimsical" definition of the word than it does the truly weird. That said, I found myself almost immediately engrossed in this book from the moment I opened the cover one sunny morning in the porcelain library.
You might call Strange But True America a history book for people who don't necessarily read history books. It can also function as a great conversation starter. Once you've finished your private reading in the library, I highly recommend leaving this one out on the coffee table for visiting relatives and friends.
In the book, author John Hafnor compiles a collection of odd little historical tidbits from all fifty states. The stories are just off the wall enough to have been left out of the history books you might remember studying as a kid in grammar school.
For example, did you know George Washington actually died as a result of being bled to death by his own doctors? It seems, the rather arcane medical practice of "bloodletting" was actually a fairly common one in Washington's day. Stranger still is that Washington's doctors wanted to preserve his body by freezing it — so that he might be resurrected. The early attempt at cryogenics was vetoed by George's wife, Martha.
Speaking of Washington, I couldn't resist finding out what Hafnor managed to dig up about my own home state. Unfortunately I didn't find anything about how our state was the place where Kenneth Arnold's 1947 sighting of a UFO over Mt. Rainier gave birth to the term "flying saucer" entering the zeitgeist. It does however make note of Dry Falls, Washington — home to what may be the world's biggest dry waterfall.