*_A Popular History of Minnesota_ by Norman K. Risjord (Minnesota Historical Society Press, $19.95)*
I can see this handy paperback as a pleasant companion on many a family trip around Minnesota, including short visits to historic sites in the Twin Cities. Risjord tells the many stories of the state’s past in an enjoyable narrative tone, sprinkled with photographs from the historical society’s collections. He also offers colorful “side trips” about some of the quirkier aspects of Minnesota’s history, such as the Kensington Runestone, and poignant ones as well, such as excerpts from an immigrant’s letters about crossing the Atlantic. Each chapter ends with a “visiting history” mini-appendix, listing and giving directions to the historic sites related to that chapter’s content. With such a user-friendly format, A Popular History of Minnesota should indeed live up to its name.