Images of America — Platte County is reviewed by Lawrence F. Lihosit, whose latest book, Whispering Campaign, includes short stories from Mexico and Central America. Published by iUniverse, it will be available at Amazon.com by November 1st.
Reviewed by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras, 1975–77)
Images in America: Platte County is a history book. It could be described as a photo essay but it is more than that. This is about the people, places and activities from the 1800s until 1965 that defined Platte County, Wyoming. The history of its changing cultural geography begins with homesteaders riding a trail parallel to the North Platte River in the later portion of the 19th century and ends with abandoned Atlas missile silos south of Chugwater in the 1960s.
The black and white photographs are all of extremely high quality and reproduced accurately. The author has supplied a full paragraph to describe each, sometimes quoting historical figures. We have the opportunity to see channels being dug, the animals and plants that sustained these laboring pioneers, the homes and businesses they built, and even the faces of some of its citizens.
This is part of a history series published since 1993 by Arcadia Publishing which includes more than five thousand titles that describe life across the United States. Ms. Talbott’s book is part of the “Images of America” series which concentrates on geographic areas. Other series offered by the publishing house include historical postcards, sports, Black America, Then and Now and Campus History. Their web site offers job opportunities for those who like history.
Working with various local historical groups, a library and local utility companies, Ms. Talbott combed archives and old books. She also interviewed. “Each person I talked to would send me to another. I met keepers of history . . . fascinating.”
The result is something that all Returned Peace Corps Volunteers should consider because that is what Peace Corps’ memoirs are: primary historical sources to be used by the next generation. The people she describes were never on a television talk show. The places have never been immortalized. The activities never made people on the other side of the earth tremble with fear or gawk with envy. Their stories are valuable just as we are and print is the path to remembrance. Electronic images are as temporal as a bolt of lightning. They disappear without a trace with the first power outage. Books have survived centuries.
Our Peace Corps experiences permit us to describe some part of the world which has undoubtedly changed as much as Platte County. The author of her own Peace Corps memoir, Ms. Talbott has proven again that she has a keen eye for the telling detail.
Lawrence F. Lihosit books and pamphlets are available on-line at www.abookcompany.net.