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Eyes of the Nation:
The Library of Congress is the largest library on earth, with more than 111 million items. Eyes of the Nation's nearly 400 lavishly illustrated pages take the reader into the vaults of the library to see such priceless relics as Thomas Jefferson's draft for the Declaration of Independence, James Madison's handwritten "Notes on Debates on the Bill of Rights," and Abraham Lincoln's manuscript of the Emancipation Proclamation. And not only the obvious artifacts of American history are featured. Also included are maps so old that cartographers drew sea serpents cavorting in the ocean waves, a galley of Leaves of Grass with Walt Whitman's handwritten corrections, and a poster advertising the Grateful Dead at San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom.
Besides the abundant and well-captioned illustrations, each chapter is introduced by an essay by historian Alan Brinkley, a professor at Columbia and winner of the National Book Award. Brinkley's text could stand alone as a solid, balanced overview of American history. It also adds essential structure and context to the book's parade of images. Eyes of the Nation is a rare combination of ravishing visuals with substantive, carefully conceived text and structure. For anyone interested in the vast American experience, it's nearly impossible to open its pages without being drawn in. [via]