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The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story (Icons of America) Hardcover – May 29, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“Arriving shortly after the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty’s dedication, Ed Berenson’s charming and eminently readable book is itself a cause for celebration. Offering fascinating insights into the origins, controversies, challenges, and achievements associated with this most familiar icon of the American dream of freedom, The Statue of Liberty reminds us that while the journey towards freedom is rarely smooth, the ever-evolving symbolic power of the Colossus of New York Harbor endures, because the aspiration for liberty is fundamental to our humanity. On 9/11, this 'mighty woman' stood as witness to devastation and mass murder; standing tall and unharmed in the harbor overlooking the wounded skyline of this great city, the statue originally envisioned as 'Liberty Enlightening the World' now takes on new meaning as a beacon of resilience and renewal.”—Alice M. Greenwald, Director, National September 11 Memorial Museum (Alice M. Greenwald)

“Who knew what a history lies behind the Statue of Liberty, winding through the American Civil War, the Paris Commune, the determination of its creator Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and the hucksterism of Joseph Pulitzer? Edward Berenson re-creates the narrative with fascinating detail and personal warmth.”—Joyce Appleby, author of The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism
(Joyce Appleby)

“Edward Berenson’s The Statue of Liberty is cultural history at its finest. As Berenson shows with verve and discernment, the Statue of Liberty is a highly contested memory site. Thus throughout its history, the statue has functioned as a litmus test or projection screen for competing conceptions of American freedom. Artfully constructed and gracefully written, Berenson’s book is destined to become the standard work on Lady Liberty’s legacy.”—Richard Wolin, author of The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution, and the Legacy of the 1960s (Richard Wolin)

“This is a remarkable book because so much of the story it tells is unexpected.  Everyone thinks they know the Statue of Liberty, but they are wrong. Ed Berenson follows her surprising history from start to finish in a fast-paced and highly readable tale that never disappoints. The great colossus finds her place in nineteenth-century artistic production and technology as well as in recent popular culture and politics. Rather than ending with the statue’s unveiling, Berenson follows the story right up to the present day, showing how the Lady's meaning has changed from one generation to the next. At times humorous, at other moments elegiac, The Statue of Liberty is utterly spellbinding and a jewel of microhistorical analysis.”—Ruth Harris, author of Dreyfus: Emotion, Politics and the Scandal of the Century, winner of the Wolfson Prize (Ruth Harris)

“This important work examines not only the evolution of the statue, but the ever-evolving American relationship to freedom and immigration.  Berenson here explores the wide range of perceptions that gave the statue meaning and voice—from its very conception, through its contemporary status as a beloved (yet fraught) American icon.”—Melissa J. Martens, Museum of Jewish Heritage
(Melissa J. Martens)

"There is no better symbol to represent the long friendship between France and the United States than the Statue of Liberty. Edward Berenson’s fascinating new book brings to light the various meanings the Statue has held since its creation more than 125 years ago."—François Delattre, Ambassador of France to the United States
(François Delattre)

“Berenson’s contribution is in pointing out how this symbol has continued to engage Americans’ imagination. . . . Readers interested in the statue’s treatment in domestic popular culture will want to consult Berenson.”—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Library of Congress
(Frederick J. Augustyn Jr. Library of Congress)

“Edward Berenson, a professor of history at New York University, has written a highly readable history. . . . His book is meticulously researched and crisply written.”— Larry Cox, Tucson Citizen
(Larry Cox Tucson Citizen)

“If you think you know all there is to know about the Statue of Liberty, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Edward Berenson’s The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story.”—Sam Roberts, New York Times
(Sam Roberts New York Times)

An “endlessly fascinating read.”—Louisville Courier-Journal
(Louisville Courier-Journal)

Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic 2012 Title for subcategory North America within the Social and Behavioral Sciences category.
(Outstanding Academic Title Choice 2013-05-22)

About the Author

Edward Berenson is professor of history, director of the Institute of French Studies, and director of the Center for International Research in Humanities and Social Sciences, New York University. His previous books include Heroes of Empire: Five Charismatic Men and the Conquest of Africa. He lives in Irvington, NY.


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Product Details

  • Series: Icons of America
  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Book Club (BCE/BOMC) edition (May 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300149506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300149500
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #736,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Like so many Americans I knew precious little about the Statue of Liberty. I am sure that my high school American history book made a passing reference to its origins and I probably read a few short newspaper and magazine articles about it during its extensive restoration in the 1980's. A few days ago I traipsed into my local bookstore searching for something a bit less intense than the books on politics I have been reading over the past few months. That is when I happened upon Edward Berenson's extraordinary little book "The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story". After perusing the description of the book on the dust jacket and reading some of the testimonials I was sold. And I was not disappointed. "The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story" is a compelling, entertaining and very well-written book. Professor Berenson succeeded in making the rich history of this magnificent colossus come alive for me.

In "The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story" you will meet the small cadre of men in France who conceived and executed this improbable project. There were so many obstacles to overcome. Berenson does a workmanlike job of describing the political climate back in 1865 and why these men were so motivated to propose such a gift from France to the United States. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, a talented young sculptor was the visionary who really conceptualized the Statue and would become the driving force to see this project to its completion over two decades later. Bartholdi drew his inspiration from several existing works of art and Berenson has included a number of these images in his book. It was Bartholdi who selected Bedloe's Island in New York Harbor as the site for his masterpiece.
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Other reviews can give you a broad perspective on this book. I just want to say that the great thing about Berenson's approach is that he digs into the actual construction of the statue, and how exactly it got put together. This kind of thing is conspicuous by its absence in so many books of this nature (e.g. Ambrose's book about the transcontinental railroad). Great fun, a good read. It's a national icon. It's huge up close. Go and see it.
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This is a good book that provided me with a lot of useful information that I was able to incorporate into a construction 101 paper on the Statue of Liberty. I think that this would be a good book for many different grade levels and I felt that it was an interesting read as well.
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