Images of America: Silicon Valley

Images of America: Silicon Valley This recent (2009) addition to Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series covers a huge segment of local history, roughly from Victorian times to the present day. Like other books in the series, it presents local history through historical documentary photographs.

Author Sam Shueh emphasizes the transformation of the Valley of Heart’s Delight into Silicon Valley, showing the earliest introductions of technology and industry to the area. Coverage ranges from the founding of Stanford University and the Lick Observatory to the development of 40 Gigabyte per second optical transmitters at Intel. Several pages and more than a dozen really fantastic photos cover the days when Moffett Field was a US Navy airship base.

This is possibly the most ambitious of the Images of America books I’ve seen, both because of its broad scope and because of the substantial and informative captions provided for the photographs. Despite its breadth, the book mostly maintains its focus on the development of the region as a technology center with only a few odd digressions. One example being four pages and eight photos devoted to the development of one lot on the corner of Stevens Creek and De Anza Boulevards from a nondescript general merchandise and farm supply store to a nondescript bank office; it’s a sequence that could have been saved for another book focused on Cupertino history.

If there is one substantial defect in the book, it is that the editing is somewhere in the range between amateurish and abysmal, or possibly simply nonexistent. Despite the relatively small amount of text, typos, misstatements, and clumsy wordings average about one per page. While I’m glad to have the book and all its historical photos in any form, it would only have taken a couple of hours of editing to make a real improvement in the text presentation.

This is a fascinating book to read, and I recommend it to anyone interested in local history. But because of the shoddy editing its hard to say it would make a good gift.

Images of America: Silicon Valley is available from your local bookstore or directly from Arcadia Publishing.

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