Richard Kurin had a crystal-clear assignment: From the Smithsonian museums collections of 137,000,000 items, select 101 that would optimally communicate a radiant sense of American history. The impressively title Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture did the nation proud with a rich, sometimes surprising array of choices. When you realize that the Smithsonian Institute houses artifacts from the 505 million-year-old Burgess Shale fossils to the outward looking Giant Magellan Telescope, you gain some sense of the compass of this project. Under Kurin's custodianship, this project became much more than a collection of curios; with its fascinating descriptions, annotations, and photographs, The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects has the potential to give every family member a hands-on sense of our shared heritage.
The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objectsby Richard Kurin
The Smithsonian Institution is America's largest, most important, and most beloved repository for the objects that define our common heritage. Now Under Secretary for Art, History, and Culture Richard Kurin, aided by a team of top Smithsonian curators and scholars, has assembled a literary exhibition of 101 objects from across the Smithsonian's museums that together… See more details below
The Smithsonian Institution is America's largest, most important, and most beloved repository for the objects that define our common heritage. Now Under Secretary for Art, History, and Culture Richard Kurin, aided by a team of top Smithsonian curators and scholars, has assembled a literary exhibition of 101 objects from across the Smithsonian's museums that together offer a marvelous new perspective on the history of the United States.
Ranging from the earliest years of the pre-Columbian continent to the digital age, and from the American Revolution to Vietnam, each entry pairs the fascinating history surrounding each object with the story of its creation or discovery and the place it has come to occupy in our national memory. Kurin sheds remarkable new light on objects we think we know well, from Lincoln's hat to Dorothy's ruby slippers and Julia Child's kitchen, including the often astonishing tales of how each made its way into the collections of the Smithsonian. Other objects will be eye-opening new discoveries for many, but no less evocative of the most poignant and important moments of the American experience. Some objects, such as Harriet Tubman's hymnal, Sitting Bull's ledger, Cesar Chavez's union jacket, and the Enola Gay bomber, tell difficult stories from the nation's history, and inspire controversies when exhibited at the Smithsonian. Others, from George Washington's sword to the space shuttle Discovery, celebrate the richness and vitality of the American spirit. In Kurin's hands, each object comes to vivid life, providing a tactile connection to American history.
Beautifully designed and illustrated with color photographs throughout, The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects is a rich and fascinating journey through America's collective memory, and a beautiful object in its own right.
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Penguin Group
- NOOK Book
- Sales rank:
- File size:
- 86 MB
- This product may take a few minutes to download.
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
What People are saying about this
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
Kurin uses 101 artifacts from the Smithsonian's collections to vividly illustrate American culture. Each article is about an artifact--but it's about so much more than that. He carefully wends together inventions like the airplane and the light bulb with Abe Lincoln's hat, Ben Franklin's staff, and even the Stars & Strips of Fort McHenry in a tapestry of enlightened story-telling. Along with information about each artifact, Kurin describes the process by which it came to reside in the nation's museum. Artifacts from a wide range of museums--including the Museum of African-American History and the Native American Museum are represented. In my English 11 classes, I used an obscure article about King Kamehameha's feathered cape in a unit with my students, and the quality of research and the quality of writing held up to a very in-depth study. Kurin closes the book with a reflection on artifacts that he didn't get to fit into his top 101. He comes across as a thorough researcher and devoted curator for my country's treasures. As an American I feel grateful to have people like Kurin in charge of my country's historic artifacts. As a reader, I am grateful for this intelligent, inspiring book.
I love history and love this book. It is so varied covering so many topics and thousands of years of history. Each object story also contains detailed color photos, helping really bring the item to light.