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EXCELLENT Reference Tool...Superbly Written and Detailed.
on May 2, 2001
This reference guide is a MUST HAVE for all writers of historical fiction. Even fans of the genre will find the contents fascinating. Here is a sampling from the Table Of Contents...a simple summation here will not do this book true justice:
Slang and Everyday Speech: even includes swear words, euphemisms and Appalachian Speech -- and examples on how to use them!
Driving Customs: different modes of transportation (including wagons, carriages, stage coaches, canals, etc.)
Home Life: types of houses, furniture, lighting and housekeeping methods, etc.
Clothing and Fashion -- including a chronology of hairstyles (what FUN it was reading this!)
Careers and Occupations: including "street vendor cries" and child labor
Money and Currency: different currencies and their values (wish they had pictures!) Confederate Money, foreign currency and exchange
Health and Medicine: aside from the usual common illnesses and their treatments also included are quack remedies, medicines, premature burial
Common foods, alcoholic beverages, how they preserved foods and what it was like to hang out in a saloon Different Pastimes, Games, sports and social customs,
Dating and marriage customs,
Slave customs and everyday life, including music and dialect. There is even a sidebar on the occupations of free blacks. I found it interesting that there were also Negro slave owners during this period -- see page 220!
The Civil War: practices, customs, weaponry, (very inclusive)
The Wild West: cowboys and their customs, regional slang, food and drink
Criminal activity, slang and common punishments
All in all everything you need to create a "filled to the brim" first draft is here. Use of this book will certainly cure any form of writer's block.
My favorite section is the Chronology of Events towards the back of the book (begins on page 283 of the hardcover edition). Here you will find very valuable timetables...from 1800-1900. Also included in this section is a Chronology of books, novels and magazines that were published during this time period; as well as inventions, songs and other noted innovations. The author then concludes the book with a resource guide to other references helpful to the historical writer.