Source: Received from publisher for review
“During the nineteenth century, Scranton served as the face of a rising America and a hub of technology and innovation-between 1840 and 1902, the city of Scranton changed from a lazy backwoods community to a modern industrial society with 100,000 residents. During this time, Scranton's citizens desperately tried to adapt their thinking to keep up with the rapid changes around them, and in the process forged the world views that would define the twentieth century”
During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s America was at the heart of its industrial power. Factories were popping up everywhere, railroads were crisscrossing all parts of the country, and cities were a-growing. Scranton was not left behind during this city building explosion. This quote from the very beginning of the book really describes for me what the evolution of Scranton was like “Scranton was, in a sense, the Silicon Valley of the nineteenth century” (Brown 2).
I was interested in this book when I heard about it because I have frequently traveled through Scranton when visiting my grandmother and I have always been interested in the evolution of the cities in the United States. Scranton really was right in the heart of industrialization and immigration explosions. There was, as can be expected during periods of rapid change, a conflict between the small town mindset and evolution of industry.
Brown constantly refers back to a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called The Village Blacksmith to show what Scranton was like around 1840 and what it left behind in its growth (you can read the poem in its entirety here if you would like). I think that this was a great source to illustrate life in Scranton and it would take you out of research reading mode for a little while – as the reading did get dry from time to time.
In terms of a non-fiction book – this was more of a fact filled, stick to the facts book, than keeping the reader’s attention read. I found that I could only read this book in small doses as I could only concentrate for so long. It supplied some great information, but I had problems focusing. That being said, this was a quick read – it was just over 100 pages. In that small amount of space it covered almost 100 years of history of Scranton – the facts were quite packed in.
If you are someone who is interested in the evolution of the cities in the US or the industrialization period, this book might be right up your alley. If you are just a casual observer, I might steer away from this one.
You can read an excerpt for the first chapter of the book if you want to get a feel for the book before you buy it.
You can also watch the book trailer below:
Buy the Book: Amazon.