BETWEEN THE BOOKENDS

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John Deere guide

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'Round the world in 156 pages

This may well be a book for you if you like that long, green line of tractors. It's neither a coffee table book, nor a particularly thick volume jammed full of facts and figures. Rather, it's a handy and easy-to-read 156 pages, filled with plenty of information about John Deere tractors, but not so much as to be tedious. The small volume makes a pleasant evening of reading without being too heavy on either lap or eyes.

The book is simply structured. The entire John Deere line of tractors is broken down into eight logical chapters:

The Pioneering Years, 1892-1924
The Unstyled Years, 1923-1938
The Styled Years, 1938-1960
The Numbered Series Years, 1952-1960
The New Generation of Power, 1959-1972
Generation II, 1972-1987
The Modern Years, 1982-1991
The World's Leader, 1991 - Present

Author Don Macmillan lives in England, and the book naturally reflects his consequent international perspective. He includes information on John Deere tractors produced in many foreign countries, as well as the United States.

Macmillan proudly explains that he bought his first new John Deere tractor in 1943 for farming. Fifteen years later, he was appointed the first official John Deere dealer in the British Isles. Just a year after that, he began collecting and restoring John Deere tractors, and at one time had more than 30 vintage machines.

Varying amounts of text pertain to the different tractors included in the book. Most readers will probably find just enough information to satisfy their curiosity without feeling overwhelmed by details. Lightly shaded - green, of course - boxes of concisely presented facts accompany the text on each model. There's no laborious digging through paragraphs of information to learn these interesting details. Highlighted in each box are the years a model series was built and specifications on a particular tractor within that series. These include: engine, bore and stroke, rated engine speed, displacement, power, transmission and weight.

Although the quality of the photographs in the book varies from snapshots to professionally produced portraits, a large number show these vintage machines actually working in the field. They're just doing their jobs and getting dirty - something rarely seen in antique tractor books. Scattered throughout are a few interesting reproductions of period advertisements and posters, too.

The scope of today's John Deere tractors is symbolically portrayed in the final two photo pages of the book. A 9420T and a 9420 are shown as they appeared at the 2001 introduction of the 9020 Series, held in Seville, Spain.

In the back of the book are an index and source page. The index lists every model included and the page numbers on which the tractor is featured. The source page lists resources for readers wanting more information, although the listings are not up to date. FC

- The Field Guide to John Deere Tractors by Don Macmillan, published by Voyageur Press Inc., Stillwater, Minn., 2002; ISBN: 0-89658-514-X, 160 pages, hard cover, $19.95. Available from Farm Collector Books (item number 1468).

This field guide's author, Don Macmillan, was the first official John Deere dealer in the British Isles. His book naturally reflects his international perspective.