It’s no secret that I LOVE history (or at least it shouldn’t be). History was one of my favorite subjects in school. In fact, I liked it so much that I took it twice on year. (Who knew that World History and World Cultures were the same thing? Spoiler alert: Not me.)
If, like me, you love history, then sit back and relax – you’re in for a treat. But if when you think of history, you think of Professor Binns droning on about some battle or other that no one still living even cares about, then I’m here to tell you you’ve been doing it wrong.
Don’t believe me?
Well, why not? 😛
Allow me to present Exhibit 1 in my defense. I give you Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving At All, by Mark R. Hunter. This entertaining look at Indiana’s history had me laughing out loud as I read. From paleo-armadillos to Mad Anthony Wayne, from beets to presidents (no presidents were beaten in the making of this book – at least, not that I know of), this book’s got a little bit of everything. It’s even got Johnny Appleseed, and if that’s not a ringing endorsement, then I don’t know what is.
Clearly, I enjoy Mr. Hunter’s style of humor (see my review of his book Slightly Off the Mark for more), but I also like the way that he makes his home state’s history come alive. So often in history books, the events portrayed feel flat and static, and this book did an excellent job of bringing history to life, so much so that I would be first in line to buy histories of the other 49 states if Mr. Hunter chose to write them, and I dearly hope he will.
Check out Hoosier Hysterical – even if you’re not a Hoosier. You’ll be glad you did.
About the book
“The problem with history isn’t that it’s not interesting; it’s that it’s not made interesting. For instance, all too often history classes stress memorizing dates, although I must admit those are the only dates I got in high school.” So Mark R Hunter begins his attempt to make history funny, even if it makes history teachers roll over in their graves (hopefully not while they’re still alive). With his wife Emily, Hunter goes on an off-the-wall, Indy 500-style race though the past, from Paleo-Indians through the Northwest Territory, the formation of the state, wars, and the ongoing struggle of people against their environment and each other. Hunter tackles everything from A to W … which in this case means Paleo-armadillos (“look it up—they were huge”) to Wayne, as in Mad Anthony (“Mad was his first name. You have to wonder what Mad Anthony Wayne’s mother was thinking, back when women in labor didn’t get the good drugs“). Along the way we encounter killers, heroes, trivia, claims to fame, and of course, Johnny Appleseed. It’s all as American as sugar cream pie—Indiana’s state pie, thanks to the efforts of a hard-working state General Assembly. So sit back and have some fun … and if you accidentally learn something along the way, at least it will be painless.
About the author
Mark R. Hunter’s first novel, the romantic comedy Storm Chaser, was published by Whiskey Creek Press in 2011, and in 2012 the same publisher released his related e-book collection, Storm Chaser Shorts. Also that year, a humor piece by Mark was including in the anthology My Funny Valentine.
In July, 2013, Mark self-published a local history book, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With the Albion Fire Department. The next year two books came out: The YA humor-adventure The No-Campfire Girls, and a sequel to Storm Chaser, The Notorious Ian Grant.
His humor column, Slightly Off the Mark, has appeared for over two decades, and is now printed monthly in the Kendallville Mall. That led to the book Slightly Off the Mark, which was published in 2015. He also had a humor piece in the anthology My Funny Valentine, and a short story in the anthology Strange Portals.
For two decades, Mark R. Hunter has been an emergency dispatcher for the Noble County Sheriff Department. He’s served over 30 years as a volunteer for the Albion Fire Department, holding such positions as safety officer, training officer, secretary, and public information officer. He also has done public relations writing for the Noble County Relay For Life, among other organizations, and served two terms on the Albion Town Council. When asked if he has any free time, he laughs hysterically.
Mark lives in Albion, Indiana, with his wife and editor Emily, a cowardly ball python named Lucius, and a loving, scary dog named Beowulf. He has two daughters and twin grandsons, and so naturally is considering writing a children’s book. He can be found online at www.markrhunter.com.
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