Americana; Treasures of the Library of Congress, by Charles A. Goodrun. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc. $45.
The "Library" of Congress is actually much more than a library -- it's a treasure-filled museum. Nineteen million books and pamphlets make up only a fraction of some 76 million items, ancient and modern, from all over the world.
This volume's 440 illustrations (156 in color) provide a tantalizing glimpse of the collection's extraordinary richness and variety. Leafing through the pages, you can survey the contents of Lincoln's pockets on the day of his assassination; savor the delicate brushstrokes of a 17th-century Japanese manuscript; study Alexander Graham Bell's first sketch of the telephone; marvel at violins crafted by the master Stradivarius; or note Richard rodger's original handwritten score of the musical "Oklahoma." The whole visual experience is heightened by Charles goodrum's fast-moving, informative text.
Both text and illustrations are beautifully framed -- even the paper they're printed on is of superlative quality. The result is more than a library tour; it is a tour de force.