Rating:

Reviewed by Al H.

Of all the subjects that I studied in school, my least favorite was history. Of course, the boring old textbooks were nothing like Strange But True, America. At its heart, Strange But True, America is a history book. It has fascinating little history stories from each of the 50 states. But, unlike a regular history book, it doesn’t dwell on the mundane or “normal” stories. Instead, it delves into the unusual.

Since I’m from Texas, I naturally looked up my own state first. In a single page, John Hafnor (the author of this gem) tells the story of the notorious bandito, Vidal, who was the king of livestock rustlers in the “No Man’s Land” of southern Texas. At least until he unwittingly rustled several steeds belonging to Texas Ranger Creed Taylor. Taylor put an end to Vidal. And, in order to send a message to other rustlers, he lashed Vidal’s body (without the head) onto a wild mustang. He hung the severed head loosely to the back of the corpse and created a Texan version of the headless horseman.

Each story is accompanied by an illustration from Dale Crawford. It’s a fascinating trip through the offbeat history of the United States and well worth the read. Every state, from Alabama to Wyoming, is represented by its own freaky tale from America’s past. Each tale takes up only a single page (give or take a few lines) with the illustration being on the opposite page. If you have strong willpower, you can read a tale in a single sitting and then put it away until you want another unusual story to occupy your mind. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll read the entire book in just two nights and return to your favorite stories again and again.

For more information, please visit the Strange But True, America website.