Smithsonian

44 articles
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How the Potato Changed the World

A short but comprehensive history of solanum tuberosa.

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What's Changed, and What Hasn't, in the Town That Inspired To Kill a Mockingbird

“It’s an old book!” Harper Lee told a mutual friend of ours who’d seen her while I was in Monroeville. “But if someone wants to read it, fine!”
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What Makes the "Lion Whisperer" Roar?

On spending your life among large felines.

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For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II

In 1936, Karp Lykov whisked his family into the Siberian wilderness to escape Bolshevik persecution. They remained there, alone, until discovered by a helicopter crew in 1978.

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How Oregon's Second Largest City Vanished in a Day

A segregated housing development washed away in a flood can still explain why Portland, Oregon, is such a “white” city.

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Can the Siberian Tiger Make a Comeback?

In Russia’s Far East, an orphaned female tiger is the test case in an experimental effort to save one of the most endangered animals on earth.

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Native Intelligence

The true story of the first Thanksgiving.

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The Race to Stop Africa’s Elephant Poachers

Hunting people who hunt elephants.

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Rise of the Sea Urchin

From Norwegian waters to European plates.

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The Amazing (If True) Story of the Submarine Mechanic Who Blew Himself Up Then Surfaced as a Secret Agent for Queen Victoria

The life and times of James McClintock, the man behind the famed H.L. Hunley who also may or may not have faked his own death.

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The High Priestess of Fraudulent Finance

Cassie Chadwick pulled her first con in 1870, at the age of 13. Over the next 30 years, she would scam her way to $633,000, about $16.5 million in today’s dollars.

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What Really Happened to Michael Rockefeller

More than 50 years after Nelson Rockefeller's son went missing following a boat accident in New Guinea, the true story emerges. He made it to shore, but didn't make it much farther.

Excerpted from Savage Harvest.