Wednesday, July 13, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: How the Post Office Created America by Winifred Gallagher

I received this book for free from Netgalley. This did not influence my review.

I’ve always loved the post office and am fascinated by how it works. Email is quick and convenient, but I miss the days of exchanging letters with friends and family by regular mail. When I saw this Netgalley offering—a history of the U.S. Post office—How the Post Office created America by Winifred Gallagher, I knew I wanted to read it.

This well-organized, informative book looks at the crucial role the post office played in providing information services to people throughout the history of the U.S.A., and demonstrates how influential the U.S. Postal Department was in growing the country. Mail went hand-in-hand with westward settlement. Subsidies to stage coaches, the railroad, and finally the airline industry made these burgeoning transportation industries economically viable. Roads were built so that mail could get through. Newspaper delivery was kept inexpensive so that the population of the country, even in its remotest outposts, could stay informed.

This book is chockful of information not just about postal history, but about U.S. social history.

The epilogue touches on the challenges facing the post office today, putting them in historical context. The post office has faced numerous difficulties in the past. Previously, it has adapted and grown. The author offers up scenarios for revitalization. The book shows how the postal service has had a remarkable far-reaching impact on the development of the U.S., more so than I ever imagined. I’ve always loved mail, but now I have a whole new appreciation for the postal service.