The Complete Civil War Road Trip Guide
Countryman Press, $19.95
In this mammoth guide to Civil War sites, author Michael Weeks visited more than 400 places and drove thousands of miles. Weeks' enthusiasm for his subject in this vast undertaking shows on every page. He discusses the great battles and battlefields, from Antietam to Gettysburg, and great leaders, from Ulysses S. Grant to Robert E. Lee, as well as historical markers and historic churches, cemeteries and museums. Among those are the little-known National Prisoner of War Museum at the Andersonville National Historic Site outside Atlanta and the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. The latter contains such artifacts as Robert E. Lee's sword, Stonewall Jackson's spurs and Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's plumed hat. Even avid Civil War history buffs are sure to learn something from Weeks' carefully written tome.
The Beatles' London:
A Guide to 467 Beatles Sites
Interlink Books, $20
It appears that the Beatles left their collective footprints on every inch of London. With this remarkable guide, authors Piet Schreuders, Mark Lewisohn and Adam Smith have certainly done their homework (Lewisohn is considered among the most eminent of Beatles scholars and is working on a three-volume biography of the band). From Soho and Islington to Chelsea and Kensington, as well as the outer regions, the guide features detailed information on where the Beatles lived and played and where some of their most well-known photographs were taken. The last includes the famous shot of the foursome crossing Abbey Road. (To take the shot, freelance photographer Iain Macmillan balanced himself and his Hasselblad precariously on a stepladder in the middle of the street.) The book includes film and photo shoots from "A Hard Day's Night," "Help!" and "Magical Mystery Tour."
Large Art in Small Places:
Discovering the California
Ten Speed Press, $24.95
Murals often are overlooked as people either take them for granted or ignore them. In this handsome guide to 250 contemporary murals in California's small towns, author Kevin Bruce tries to make up for that oversight while featuring murals that are off the beaten track. Bruce defines a mural town as a place "where the town intends the murals to be all, or part, of a plan to attract tourism." Several of the towns have only one or two murals; others boast more than a dozen or even two dozen. Frequently the murals chronicle local history, and others go far beyond, such as "Tyrannosaurus Rex" in Arcata, which depicts a dinosaur emerging from a smoldering volcano. Some murals recall the Midwest regionalism style of Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton; others employ a trompe l'oeil effect. This is a regional guide that will appeal to anyone who loves and appreciates murals, no matter where they live.
Byways of Wisconsin
Countryman Press, $18.95
For those who plan to stay close to home this summer, this handy guide describes 12 excursions to Wisconsin's lesser-known charms. Yes, cheese factories and breweries are here, but so are descriptions of mining towns with a rich local history, such as Mineral Point, with its restored small cottages originally built in the 19th Century by Cornish immigrant miners. And where else but Mineral Point can one sample both a Cornish pasty and a figgyhobbin? No, says author Kevin Revolinski, they are not characters from the "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy but rather, respectively, a meat filling with potatoes and onions wrapped in a crust pastry, and a sweet pastry rolled with cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins and nuts smothered with caramel and whipped cream or ice cream. Revolinski's Wisconsin also includes nods to a circus museum, local wineries, Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin estate, kettle moraines, freshwater fishing in lumberjack country and fish boils in the heart of Door County.
Byways of Michigan
Countryman Press, $18.95
The Michigan that author Matt Forster presents is expansive. It begins in downtown Detroit, with stops at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in nearby Dearborn (the complex features such unusual and historic items as the Lincoln Continental that John F. Kennedy rode in when he was shot). It then moves on to the college town of Ann Arbor, winery tours and wine tastings along Michigan's so-called Grape Coast -- the state's oldest winery, St. Julian, is in Paw Paw -- and one of Lake Michigan's most popular tourist towns, Saugatuck. He also travels farther north to Sleeping Bear Dunes, Beaver Island, the Straits of Mackinac and Sault Ste. Marie on the Canadian border. Students of history will want to explore the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish, which includes the bell of the doomed freighter Edmund Fitzgerald. The ship sank in Lake Superior in 1975 and was immortalized a year later in Gordon Lightfoot's haunting ballad.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
For those who are looking for details on specific areas of Michigan, Moon's guidebook to the Upper Peninsula is an indispensable volume. In addition to thoughtful descriptions of what to do and see, author Josh Bishop includes detailed information on the region's history, culture, geology and geography, flora and fauna, economy and people (the northwest corner of the peninsula, for example, contains the largest Finnish-American population in the United States).
Resourceful Traveler is written by June Sawyers