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The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects Hardcover – October 29, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Publishers Weekly (starred):
“Kurin [has] done a masterful job. Even… well-known items have surprising and significant back stories. Unexpected selections… make the book even more engrossing, and… can make for some emotional reading. Kurin does a terrific job of expanding upon the story of each object, whether it’s a pair of slave shackles or a damaged door from one of the New York City fire trucks that responded to 9/11. This humanistic approach to storytelling makes for immersive, addictive reading.”

Kirkus Reviews:
“Smithsonian Undersecretary Kurin’s tales are abundant, so much so that it seems almost a shame to stop at a mere 101 items....A well-conceived and well-illustrated pleasure to read, combining narrative history and keepsake volume.”

Library Journal:
“A guide like this is all the more useful since such a small percentage of the Smithsonian's holdings can ever be on exhibit. The book is much more descriptive than analytical, as Kurin sets each object, beautifully photographed, in its historical and institutional context.”

About the Author

Richard Kurin serves as the Smithsonian Institution's Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, with responsibility for most of its museums and many of its educational programs. He is an anthropologist and cultural historian, a former Fulbright fellow with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, including Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem, and his scholarship and museological work have been recognized by the International Council of Museums, UNESCO, and Harvard's Peabody Museum. Awarded the Smithsonian Secretary's Gold Medal for Exceptional Service, he represents the Smithsonian on the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the White House Historical Association, and numerous other boards.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; Book Club Edition edition (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594205299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594205293
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James Smithson on December 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kurin has written a very interesting series of articles about these 101 objects and how they relate to the history of America. It's a brilliant and engaging analysis, well worth the cost and the strength to hold it in your lap.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Doescher on January 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fantastic idea. Take iconic Smithsonian items, photograph them. Then write great essays to bring their history and importance to life. This book does exactly what the title says it will.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Linda White on December 23, 2013
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An excellent book: One of the best put out by The Smithsonian. Anyone, with an interest in American history, will find reading
this book a real treat.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Frank Kohl on January 1, 2014
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What a great way to study history! Read it through from cover to cover or as a coffee table book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anne-Marie Pierce on December 11, 2013
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The choice of objects anchors the narrative for greatest impact. Well written and full of fascinating facts. Makes history come to life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Candace Warren on December 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ordered for a gift. The book is lovely. It will be easy to read at intervals. Some surprising inclusions, but this is up to the usual quality of Smithsonian publications.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. on December 7, 2013
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Great book! This is a high quality book in regard to the material, as well as the binding. You'll enjoy having it in your house.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Victorian Lady on December 31, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought three copies of this book as Christmas gifts. I thought the premise was interesting and challenging--to portray the whole history of America in 101 objects. Maybe some events were dealt with rather superficially, but I had to keep in mind the goal and the limitations of utilizing only objects in the Smithsonian. All in all a good reminder of where we've been as a country.
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