One of the most beautiful books of the year and a major contribution to the literature of Americana, this is a carefully selected panorama of the monumental Index of American Design. From many thousand plates, watercolors by many artists under the WPA art project, 400 have been chosen as recording the craftsmen of early America, the decorative and domestic art created on American soil, and reflecting the basic American elements. The author of the text is the curator of the Index, and though the text is virtually expanded descriptive captions closely linked with the plates, in its continuity it creates an effect of surveying the facets of American design. The selection of material was made on the basis of artistic merit; the arrangement is now geographic, now historical; some groups represent life at home, or on the frontier, or in the more comfortable 19th century, while others show the arts of transplanted groups, minority groups, and so on. It is a fascinating record -- and a superb piece of book making.