BOOTLEGGERS, LOBSTERMEN & LUMBERJACKS: FIFTY OF THE GRITTIEST MOMENTS IN THE HISTORY OF HARDSCRABBLE NEW ENGLAND, by Matthew P. Mayo, Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, Conn., 2011, paperback, 297 pages, $16.95.
Life is hard in New England.
That’s the message that comes through loud and clear in this new history book by Northport author Matthew P. Mayo.
Nature is at the heart of many of the travails documented in the book and culled by Mayo from nearly 400 years of history. And yet, humanity has only itself to blame for a goodly number of the events.
In the book, which starts with a deadly Atlantic crossing by the Pilgrims in 1620 and ends with Maine coast trap wars in 1949, Mayo does a sterling job of bringing history to life.
It isn’t enough for a writer of history to recite names, dates and places. Indeed it’s essential to re-create the three-dimensional people around which history is woven. And with the imagined dialogue at the heart of each vignette in his book, Mayo does exactly that.
That isn’t to say that he skimps on the facts. At the end of each chapter, he writes in detail about each event, along with supplying information about similar occurrences. What should be a snack ends up being a meal for voracious readers.
“Bootleggers, Lobstermen & Lumberjacks” is an intriguing way to capture readers who may be unfamiliar with the history that has happened in their own backyards.