Dave Tabler

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By Dave Tabler

IR Rating:
More a coffee-table book than a proper history, Dave Tabler's DELAWARE FROM RAILWAYS TO FREEWAYS is a worthy read for any devotee of Delaware’s past.
Through text and pictures, the author presents a deceptively deep dive into the history of Delaware’s railroads.

DELAWARE FROM RAILWAYS TO FREEWAYS is the second book in a series that began with Delaware Before the Railroads and whose planned conclusion is Delaware from Freeways to e-Ways. In his preface, author Dave Tabler touts the advent of the railroad, saying that it “ushered in a prosperous era for the First State” due to Delaware’s “strategic location” on the Delaware Bay. The book is mostly photographs, all of which are vibrant and compelling and include objects that would not be present in most histories of the state, such as John Jones’s adjustable peach sorter: an 1874 invention that revolutionized peach sorting. Or the crawlspace in the home of Quaker couple Daniel and Mary Corbit, in which they hid a fugitive slave in 1845. Tabler’s captions are bite-sized yet satisfying, offering readers a plethora of history without making them feel overworked.

Nearly every photo caption ends with a note to see a later page in the volume, where more text about the photo can be found. This is a bizarre and frustrating way to organize a book. Why not put all the text for each photo with that photo? Yes, that would mean one photo per page, instead of the current two or three, but the efficiency gained by this organization—not having to constantly flip to the back of the book to keep reading—more than makes up for any downside. This is especially true for an e-book, in which the reader can’t flip back and forth, easily paperclip, or bookmark those later pages. Such an arrangement would also prevent the book’s current imbalance of having all the fascinating, eye-catching pictures up front while the visually duller text brings up the rear. Surely, it is more pleasing to have high-quality color photos distributed throughout the book.

Another question pertains to the photo credits: where are they? Tabler includes an acknowledgements page, in which he thanks dozens of organizations. Presumably, they are the sources of the photographs, but it is impossible to know which image came from which organization. Tabler’s website states that he has provided photography for other books, so maybe he took most (or all) of the pictures here. Proper credits would answer the question.

More a coffee-table book than a proper history, Dave Tabler’s DELAWARE FROM RAILWAYS TO FREEWAYS is a worthy read for any devotee of Delaware’s past.

~Anthony Aycock for IndieReader

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