Smithsonian Asian Pacific American History, Art, and Culture in 101 Objects

Smithsonian. Nov. 2023. 264p. ed. by Gonzalves, Theodore S. Tr $40. ISBN 9781588347510.
Gr 7 Up–A hundred and one objects from across the Smithsonian’s collections paint a picture of the Asian Pacific American experience in this reference text. The objects include everything from modern works of art to historical photographs, clothing, and poetry. Notable examples include the suit Congressman Andy Kim wore in the viral photograph of him cleaning the capital on the evening of January 6, Duke Kahanamoku’s surfboard, and an insignia patch worn by members of the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment in WWII. Objects are presented on a full-color spread with a photograph on one page and a short essay on the other. Some entries explain the cultural significance of the object, while some use the object as a springboard to a broader topic. The Smithsonian was founded with a mass collection of specimens brought back from a U.S. Naval expedition in the Pacific and Asia. An interesting thread throughout the collection is how the institution’s approach to documenting and displaying the Asian Pacific American experience has shifted over time and does not shy away from the role the Smithsonian has played in racism and discrimination. Back matter includes a bibliography and further reading.
VERDICT A beautiful book that offers an intriguing introduction to many facets of the Asian Pacific American experience. Add to collections serving middle and high schools.

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