Book Review: Clemson – There’s Something In These Hills

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“Clemson – There’s Something In These Hills” is the first coffee table type book about Clemson published since 1989.

Nothing so true has ever been uttered than Joe Sherman's "There's Something In These Hills."

How do you put into words or photographs what Clemson means? If it were easy to define, Sherman would have been more specific than “something.”
The beauty of Clemson is hard to define. For those that are students at Clemson it’s usually defined by their experiences while at the school. Many books have been written with stories about the characters of Clemson’s past, but for Clemson students the most memorable characters and events are usually found in the day-to-day living in the dorms and classrooms at Clemson.

All of this makes the task of coming up with a book that puts Clemson into pictures or words mighty difficult.
The truth is there’s a common thread that has run though Clemson’s development from the beginning until now. It’s that “something” that Sherman tried to define.

Trent Allen and Kevin Bray have taken on the task of putting into a book some of the things that define Clemson in “Clemson – There’s Something In These Hills.” If you’re going to compare the book against what you know to be true – that you can’t simply define Clemson in words or pictures – then you know what a hard task it must have been to come up with a collection of pictures and words that reflect what Clemson’s all about. But their book does a good job of capturing the things that will help us all remember why it is we say there’s “something in these hills.”

Allen and Bray, both Clemson graduates, have presented the best book in recent memory that gets to the heart of what Clemson is all about through pictures. Through 189 glossy pages, it’s a trip through memory lane that also brings into focus what Clemson has become.

Much care was obviously taken in the presentation of the photographs. Allen and Bray worked with the Clemson graphics arts department on the book. There are times that the dates on the photographs surprise the reader because of their quality. They don’t appear re-touched, just un-touched by time. You’re left with a clear view of what things looked like in many parts of campus long ago.

You know just by reason that at some point in the Earth’s history the street that runs out of Clemson’s downtown wasn’t four lanes, but there it is on page 157, a picture of a tree-lined road that is obviously the same route that now runs past the Astro Theater on the left and out of downtown.
There are multiple views of Death Valley, Sikes Hall and other campus landmarks through time. These landmarks haven’t always looked as they do now. And in many cases it’s a relief that the campus administrators weren’t afraid of change. Clemson has refined itself over time.

Clemson is well manicured now, but it has never lost sight of what it’s supposed to be. Clemson people appreciate the university’s past, which is what makes a book like this so popular. Allen’s and Bray’s book won’t disappoint. The book measures approximately 12 inches by 9 ½ inches. It’s the first coffee table book to come out in some time, but this book likely won’t sit around collecting dust on a coffee table.

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