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Boundaries    by Sally Walker order for
by Sally Walker
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

The Mason-Dixon Line's history is characterized by numerous property disputes, persecution and ideological conflicts that span centuries, and has come to represent the long running differences between the North and South in American history.

Sally Walker in her informative book Boundaries: How the Mason-Dixon Line Settled a Family Feud & Divided a Nation traces the creation of this geographical division back to the early days of American history.

The roots of the Mason-Dixon Line's boundaries can be traced back to Europe and the religious persecution that brought some families to the colonies.

Centering on a property dispute between two powerful families, the Penns and the Calverts, and the desire to establish a clear boundary line between Maryland and Pennsylvania, the survey line was to be drawn by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.

What began as purely a physical boundary eventually became also a cultural one that defined the way we looked at race relations, politics and even food.

At the time it was created, many individuals believed it would be impossible to scientifically define such a boundary but the surveyors proved the skeptics wrong. Using a newly invented vertically mounted telescope called a zenith sector, Mason and Dixon turned to the heavens to define an earthly boundary.

Astronomy and math directed the two men's work as they tackled their assignment in the 1760s. This is the story of how this difficult job was handled and what some of the final outcomes were.

'The many boundary journeys found in the complete story of the Mason-Dixon Line are relevant today,' writes Sally Walker. 'They ask us to understand why certain historical events happened. They ask us to examine what happened as the results of these events. They prompt us to question motivations and actions and to recognize similar patterns occurring in our world today.'

Written for an audience of young readers twelve and older, this book will also appeal to adults interested in learning more about the Mason-Dixon Line. Well illustrated with historical artifacts, the narrative is very informative and the author does not water it down to make the text accessible. Walker does not insult the reader with over simplification and she expects the individual to be able to manage an adult approach to the subject.

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