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HALL OF FAMEon 30 December 2005
This book is on Kansas trivia, as you no doubt would discern from the title. It is a book on Kansas trivia, and only only on Kansas trivia. It is only on trivia -- there is no narrative, no essay, no index -- just questions and answers.
The format of the book is all Questions and Answers -- 191 pages of Questions and Answers, all about Kansas! And you thought there was only amber waves of grain in Kansas? Guess again.
The Q&A is divided up into six broad categories: Geography, History, Entertainment, Arts & Literature, Sports & Leisure, and Science & Nature (these correspond largely to the popular Trivial Pursuit categories). If you thought Kansas was all flat farmland, you'll be surprised to find place names like Flint Hills; if you thought it was all Midwestern America, you'll find place names as diverse as The Garden of Eden to Nicodema to Hugoton (named for French writer Victor Hugo).
Kansas' history is also fascinating, moreso than one might think at first glance. From the early days of Native Americans (Kansas derives its name from the Kansa tribe) to the frontier and cowboy days to more modern time, many famous people have come from Kansas. In terms of Entertainment, Dorothy's residence in Kansas ('there's no place like home') is perhaps the most famous Kansas reference, but many stars from Annette Benning (born in Topeka) to Mandy Patinkin (graduate of the University of Kansas) come from the state.
H.L. Mencken maligned Kansas more than any other state in his magazine, but this is most likely undeserved, and succeeded only because of the relative ignorance of Kansas among those who do not live there (and, perhaps, among those who do, who are of course the nature audience for this book). The book is purposely adapted to be useful for trivia games, although 'Kansas' as a subject is unlikely to appear in great demand beyond the borders of Kansas.
This book was a labour of love by Barbara Brackman, who, like Dorothy, found Kansas to be home like no other. It is rather fun, even for those several states away.
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