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Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham helps us understand the present moment in American politics and life by looking back at critical times in our history when hope overcame division and fear.
Our current climate of partisan fury is not new, and in The Soul of America Meacham shows us how what Abraham Lincoln called the "better angels of our nature" have repeatedly won the day. Painting surprising portraits of Lincoln and other presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson, and illuminating the courage of such influential citizen activists as Martin Luther King Jr., early suffragettes Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt, civil rights pioneers Rosa Parks and John Lewis, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Army-McCarthy hearings lawyer Joseph N. Welch, Meacham brings vividly to life turning points in American history. He writes about the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the birth of the Lost Cause; the backlash against immigrants in the First World War and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s; the fight for women's rights; the demagoguery of Huey Long and Father Coughlin and the isolationist work of America First in the years before World War II; the anti-Communist witch hunts led by Senator Joseph McCarthy; and Lyndon Johnson’s crusade against Jim Crow. Each of these dramatic hours in our national life have been shaped by the contest to lead the country to look forward rather than back, to assert hope over fear - a struggle that continues even now.
While the American story has not always - or even often - been heroic, we have been sustained by a belief in progress even in the gloomiest of times. In this inspiring book, Meacham reassures us, "The good news is that we have come through such darkness before" - as, time and again, Lincoln’s better angels have found a way to prevail.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Helen on 05-29-18
Thanks! I needed this!
Jon Meacham does a heroic job of sifting through the history of the presidency and the hurdles faced by these remarkable men. It was encouraging to find that there were no perfect heroes among them. All of them made blunders they were certain to have regretted. Some held to the biases and prejudices of their times...often finding that these directions were not the ones that would stand up to the crises they faced when in office. I found new admiration for LBJ. Without him we would not have achieved the Civil Rights that serve our nation.
I wondered if the book would close with a critique of the present administration. But he did not go there. He simply left us with renewed faith that we would ultimately win the Battle for our Better Angels.
I liked Fred Sanders' reading...calm and confident. Just what the book required.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By LindaS on 05-28-18
An excellent historical and politically relevant narrative
This is a riveting and very instructive historical narrative and very uplifting. It shows that no matter how bad things seem today, history shows that worse has been faced and overcome over time: a positive and uplifting message for the future and future generations!
My mood now is also 5* - thank you Jon Meacham!!
(And yes I believe 100% in the importance of history in instruction)