Strange encounters between new and old worlds

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LONDON -- There were the colonial invasions, the massacres, the elimination of entire cultures, and in between rare moments of strange encounters. "Between Worlds: Voyagers to Britain 1700-1850," on view at the National Portrait Gallery until June 17, is an unusual exhibition that deals less with art than with the mutual perceptions and misperceptions of humans who were, literally, worlds apart.

It does so through the personal stories of characters that read like short novels made gripping by the backdrop of history in the brilliant little exhibition book.

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