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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.