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This look at America's aspirations, challenges and achievements as depicted on commemorative postage stamps is delivered in elegant layouts. Since 1847, more than 4,000 stamps have celebrated 500 years of American history, and the selection here is displayed in 300 color reproductions. Almost every stamp is substantially enlarged to show details and they are thematically organized, e.g., "Discovery and Exploration" (the New World and the 13 colonies), "Manifest Destiny" (how pioneers pushed westward) and "These United States" (a stamp for every state). Historical highlights span centuries, from Columbus's voyage to the moon landing, with stamps honoring everything from steamships to Elvis. Interspersed throughout is a feature, "The Story Behind the Stamp," looking at particular stamps in depth. Curiously, only a few illustrators of what the U.S. Postal Service's stamp development manager McCaffrey calls "miniature masterpieces" are identified. However, the first-class packaging and presentation could prompt tourists at Washington's Union Station to step across the street and visit the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, the main source for the stamp images in this beautiful book. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.