How America’s Weirdest Guidebooks Were Funded by the Government

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By Yuval Taylor

REPUBLIC OF DETOURS
How the New Deal Paid Broke Writers to Rediscover America
By Scott Borchert

Imagine “a country of odd contraptions and strange careers, where all the big houses have secret rooms.” Now imagine its inhabitants: “A fanciful, impulsive, childlike, absent-minded, capricious and ingenious people” who “composed irreverent jingles for their tombstones, made up jocular names for their villages and farms … and were continually deciding boundary lines, the locations of county seats and the ownership of plantations by flipping a coin.” Then picture a land where “the project failed, the boom collapsed, the railroad went the other way, the authorities got wind of the plot, the current shifted, the bay filled in.”

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