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Creating Minnesota: A History from the Inside Out Paperback – August 1, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873516338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873516334
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Creating Minnesota: A History From The Inside Out" by Annette Atkins (Professor of History at Saint John's University and the College of Saint Benedict) is a superbly written history of how Minnesota evolved from a wilderness territory into a modern American state. In a model of accessible scholarship, Professor Atkins lays out Minnesota's achievement of statehood amidst the competing interests of indigenous natives, traders, farmers, townsmen, and politicians. There are illustrative and fascinating stories such as the family in St. Paul who managed to celebrate Christmas in 1898 with fruit that originated some 1,500 miles from their home. Professor Atkins also includes a photo essay of Minnesota communities as recorded by the cameras of local and itinerant photographers; the role of the railroads; even such culinary traditions as pan-fried walleye and walleye quesadillas. Very strongly recommended for personal, school, and community library American History collections in general, and Minnesota History shelves in particular, "Creating Minnesota" is an entertaining a read as it is informed and informative.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read many Minnesota history books from the seminal state histories by William E. Lass and Theodore C. Blegen to works recently published for the state's sesquicentennial. But nothing can equal the incite and creativity offered by Annette Atkins in Creating Minnesota. I first discovered Atkins's work in Minnesota, Real & Imagined: Essays on the State and Its Culture where she provided an essay entitled "Facing Minnesota" and so I was very excited to read her new book on Minnesota history.

Atkins's approach is that of a seasoned historian who approaches her topic with sensitivity and intelligence. She is aware of her own limits as a historian and the ways her identification as a white, female, South Dakotan can affect her narrative. Furthermore, she does not shy away from the existential questions that any good historian must ask: Why do we study history? Who are we studying when we study history and how do we decide that they are the ones worth studying? How does our position in the narrative affect how we look at history?

But Atkins is not all academic theorizing, however valuable such theorizing may be. Her writing is readable, smart, and often funny. She plays with format in this book by telling the story of Minnesota by turns in broad strokes, with specific case studies, and in the form of a one-act play (an experiment that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't). What is most striking about her work is the humanity that comes forth when reading her stories. Glancing over the section of pictures, I am struck by the faces of the individuals who once called Minnesota home. Their stories are the ones that Atkins strives to tell in one way or another and, in my opinion, she exceeds all expectations.
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Format: Paperback
Annette Atkins can write the heck out of a story. Her lyrical history of Minnesota is thematic, personal, and a bit quirky. There are chapters in this book that soar, and there are chapters that touch on the mundanity of Minnesota history. I would read an essay by this author, on any topic that touches her heart or mind, in a minute. This book contains several such. My only mild critical comment is that this book would have been even better with more Annette, and a tiny bit less Minnesota, if that is even possible.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While I welcome the author's attempt at a comprehensive history of the state of Minnesota, I was largely disappointed with the execution. Most of the book centers on the earliest chapters of life in MN. The later chapters, dedicated to more recent years, simply seemed hollow. I purchased this book as a present to a friend who wanted to know more about my state. After reviewing it, I knew that it just didn't do the job. Our state has a tumultuous, rich story. I only wish this book told that story in its fullness.
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Format: Paperback
Excellent popular history of Minnesota - emphasis on social history, less on politics (with the exception of a good chapter on Humphrey and the DFL). Nicely written. One question/quibble - on p. 220 Atkins writes that Elmer Benson, governor in 1937-39, was "Communist, by his own identification." No citation was given. Benson was certainly leftwing, and in 1948 he supported Henry Wallace's run for president. But that doesn't necessarily make him a Communist. (Another quibble - I had trouble double-checking this passage because Benson's not in the index. Nor is Floyd Olson, his noteworthy predecessor as governor from 1931 to 1936, though he is discussed in the book.)
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