4 out of 4 stars
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Every town has its story — the mysterious, the crime-centered, and the downright weird. The towns in Coles County are not an exception, with events going back to the 19th century when the pioneers were moving towards the west coast of America. Tales of Coles County, Illinois by Michael Kleen is a collection of such stories that perhaps laid the foundation of what is now the present-day Coles County. From the famous unsolved murders and haunted houses to the mysterious occurrences, Tales of Coles County, Illinois is a whirlwind of everything a good anthology is — suspense-filled, intriguing, and informative.
Tales of Coles County, Illinois is historical in its approach to details of events. The author emphasizes that its goal is to inform and keep history alive. However, unlike a history book, it breathes life into the characters, especially in its first part. The characters aren't just historical figures; their feelings, motivations, and ambitions draw the reader in, creating a wholesome picture and leaving vivid impressions. The first part of the book combines fact and fiction, making it an enjoyable read. Subsequent chapters focused on ghost and cemetery lore, happenings at Eastern Illinois University, true crimes, disasters, ghost towns, and the Ku Klux Klan. Apart from being historical, this book can also guide tourists visiting the county and readers who might never get the chance to see it; the tales within are enlightening enough.
One of the merits of this book is the narrative style adopted by the author. The author creates vivid and detailed memories of past events. The pictures and photos included within are of great help, too. From the many references to his sources, it is clear that the author had done thorough research. He is detailed in his historical referencing while keeping the stories from becoming mundane. I was personally impressed by the straightforward and entertaining nature of the book. Some of the stories within are tragic. However, they show the reader how far Coles County has come.
Apart from a few errors, mainly typos, this book is well edited; there's no issue of concern. I love the organization of the content; similar tales are grouped. It can be best described as 'neat work.' The references to newspaper articles, eye-witness accounts, movies, and public records, as well as maps with their coordinates, make for an all-encompassing read. The author did a brilliant job.
I will recommend this book to readers interested in historical books and the communal life in the mid-western United States, starting from the 19th century. Residents of and visitors to Coles County will also find this book exciting. Finally, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
Tales of Coles County, Illinois
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