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Joshua GlennA satirist once described a fictitious journal, titled "History's Splendid Splinter," which was devoted to scholarly essays on the wooden toothpick's "role in social history, patterns of forestry, and the evolving technology of toothpick manufacture." Henry Petroski, who quotes this dig at minutiae-obsessed pedants, gets the joke but refutes it, insisting that even the most insignificant objects can reward our close attention with new revelations. In fact, he spent years researching toothpick manufacture in small-town New England libraries and combing digital archives and dusty patent files and even assiduously picking his own teeth. The end result is a book that offers rare insights into principles of engineering and design, as well as the oddly inspiring story of one man's quixotic mission to put a toothpick in every American's mouth.
—The Washington Post