Book Reviews: How the West Was Sold and How to Map It; Measuring America by Anrdo Linklater. Published by HarperCollins, London. Pounds 7.99
Byline: BILLY KENNEDY
THE vastness of the United States of America is not always properly understood by some people on this side of the Atlantic who appear unable to realise that England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland would get easily swallowed up in Texas and California, and most states are bigger than any of our home countries.
The United States is a well-ordered land mass and this can be traced back to a decision by the American Congress to authorise the survey and sale of the land west of the Ohio River.
How this coherent pattern applied across the 3,000-mile continent is explained in this fascinating and thought-provoking 300-page book, written by Scottish-born academic, Andro Linklater.
The Congress decision led to the greatest property deal of all time, allowing the United States government to eventually measure out and sell over a billion acres, stretching from Canada to Mexico.
The grid it imposed upon the unmapped land determined the configuration of states, counties, farms and towns.
Not only was the American landscape shaped for ever - so was the American psyche, writes Linklater.
The various ethnic groups from Europe who came to inhabit America, are recorded, including the Scots-Irish or Ulster-Scots, who moved in big numbers in the 18th century. …