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Creating Minnesota: A History from the Inside Out Hardcover – September 25, 2007
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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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.