Images of America
By Kathryn Parker
A book review by Ginger Dawn Harman
While doing my monthly Costco run, I was thrilled to see that a local author was doing a book signing. I am not a frequent reader of American history and it is not a personal favorite genre that I tend to buy. However, I purchased this book and met author Kathryn Parker. At first, I believe that I might have intimidated the author because I introduced myself as a regular reader and book reviewer. Next, I challenged her to sell me her book in two minutes without opening or telling me anything from the back description. She was silent at first and I immediately realized how I put her not only one the spot but probably shocked her a bit. Nevertheless, Kathryn Parker proceeded with my challenge. First she told me how long the book was researched. Ten years of scanning local archives and various meetings with historians. Next, she told me of a woman that was featured in the book. Not a famous local that one can read about in a history book but one that was equally interesting and was a bit of a futurist path maker for many woman in America.
As I began to read the book I was immediately hooked. Each photo gave a story as if written much like a flash fiction. Furthermore, I liked how each section of the book was divided into topics and not a timeline by date. This mix of newer and older history kept my interest and to my surprise, I finished the book in two days. I particularly enjoyed reading about the local industry. I have heard stories about how one could smell apple cider in the air during the fall harvest. Yet, when I saw the photo on page 69. I was shocked at how many apples were harvested and to see the photo of 4.7 million bushels of apples during the 1982 harvest was amazing. Moreover, I had no idea that Winchester was the hub of women’s education beginning in 1854 with the Valley Female Institute. The most fascinating woman that I read about was Bertha Von Hillern. A speed and endurance walker that lived in Winchester. She earned more money than most Americans would earn in a two year period.
One will also enjoy the section of the Civil War photos with Stonewall Jackson, Gen. Custer, and Judge Richard Parker. The author, a genealogist by trade, provides a bibliography in the back and index for quick reference. The book cover has great appeal with a sepia tone and I like how the author’s name does not overtake the front cover. The price point is also very appropriate for the length and type of book. The only fault that I found in this book is that I wanted more. I wanted to have more of a glimpse into many of the people featured in the book. For example, I wanted to learn more about the spy Thomas Laws who carried tinfoil information to Rebecca Write during the war. Katherine Glass also captured my curiosity. In fairness, I believe the author did this on purpose.
I learned that she works at the Handley Library and we all know how these seeds can be placed in a book to sprout or encourage a reader to learn more. For that reason alone makes this book a five star! Any author that can create this passion to learn more has achieved a greater gift than just telling a story. I give my highest recommendation for Winchester, Images of America by Kathryn Parker.