Press contact: Erin Allen (202) 707-7302
Public contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

July 2, 2008

How the States Got Their Shapes To Be Discussed at the Library on July 15

Why does West Virginia have a finger creeping up the side of Pennsylvania? Why are California and Texas so large when so many of the states in the Midwest are roughly the same size and shape? Why are Alabama and Mississippi almost exact mirror images of each other?

Mark Stein will provide answers to these questions, and many more, when he discusses and signs his new book, "How the States Got Their Shapes," at noon on Tuesday, July 15, in Dining Room A on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E., Washington, D.C. Copies of the book will be on sale and available for signing.

Part of the Books and Beyond author series sponsored by the Center for the Book, the event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. The author used the Library's Geography and Map Division and other Library resources in his research.

The map of the United States is so familiar that its state borders seem as much a part of nature as mountains and rivers, Stein says. "How the States Got Their Shapes" is the first book to explain why state lines are where they are. Anecdotal in nature, the guide reveals the moments in American history that put the giant jigsaw puzzle of the nation together.

Stein is a playwright and screenwriter. His plays have been performed off-Broadway and at theaters around the country. His films include "Housesitter" with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. He has taught writing and drama at American University and Catholic University and lives in Washington, D.C.

The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, is the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. The Center for the Book was created in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books and reading. For information about its program, publications and national reading-promotion networks, visit

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PR 08-124
ISSN 0731-3527

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