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Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America's Public Monuments Hardcover – February 8, 2022
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A leading expert on the past, present, and future of public monuments in America.
An urgent and fractious national debate over public monuments has erupted in America. Some people risk imprisonment to tear down long-ignored hunks of marble; others form armed patrols to defend them. Why do we care so much about statues? Which ones should stay up and which should come down? Who should make these decisions, and how?
Erin L. Thompson, the country’s leading expert in the tangled aesthetic, legal, political, and social issues involved in such battles, brings much-needed clarity in Smashing Statues. She lays bare the turbulent history of American monuments and its abundant ironies, from the enslaved man who helped make the statue of Freedom that tops the United States Capitol, to the fervent Klansman fired from sculpting the world’s largest Confederate monument―who went on to carve Mount Rushmore. And she explores the surprising motivations behind contemporary flashpoints, including the toppling of a statue of Columbus at the Minnesota State Capitol, the question of who should be represented on the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument in Central Park, and the decision by a museum of African American culture to display a Confederate monument removed from a public park.
Written with great verve and informed by a keen sense of American history, Smashing Statues gives readers the context they need to consider the fundamental questions for rebuilding not only our public landscape but our nation as a whole: Whose voices must be heard, and whose pain must remain private?20 illustrations
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From the Publisher
― Jack Christian, Los Angeles Review of Books
"A crisply written book encompassing law, art, history and politics that contextualizes the American debate over monuments."
― Library Journal (starred review)
"Offers a probing examination of the meaning of public monuments…A well-informed, often surprising, history of public veneration."
― Kirkus Reviews
"[A] trenchant account…Full of intriguing historical tidbits and incisive cultural analysis, this is a worthy study of a complex and controversial issue."
― Publishers Weekly
From the Back Cover
The real stories behind some of America’s most famed statues:
• Mount Rushmore
• The Freedom statue atop the United States Capitol Building
• Stone Mountain
• The first monument honoring historical women in New York City’s Central Park
• The North Carolina State Confederate Monument
• Christopher Columbus, toppled in Minnesota
• The Confederate monument removed from Birmingham, Alabama
• The controversial Freedmen’s Memorial in Washington, DC
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company (February 8, 2022)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0393867676
- ISBN-13 : 978-0393867671
- Item Weight : 15.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #226,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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What struck me the most while listening to this eBook was how much I didn’t know. Of course, you’d have to be living under a rock to miss the culture shift happening across the nation but the history of what statues and monuments we have, who paid for them, who fought to keep them, the laws that now protect them…etc, are not exactly taught in history class. At least, not in any high school or undergrad American history class I ever took.
The authors focus on Stone Mountain, located not far from Atlanta, Georgia churned my stomach the most. I remember vacationing there as a child with my family but I didn’t know about the prison (read slave) labor that constructed it. My understanding of the confederacy, at that age anyway, was very rudimentary. Erin L. Thompson has inspired me to dig more so that my children, now the same age I was, will not remain ignorant.
Overall I thought the ebook was well written and flowed well. It is heavy on dates and people, so I took it in by chunking instead of just listening straight through, but I don’t think that is a bad thing.
Smashing Statues will be released on 2/8/22. I plan to buy and donate copies of this book to my daughters schools.
Thank you to @netgalley, OrangeSky Audio and author, Erin L. Thompson for allowing me access to an eARC copy in exchange for a honest review.
The book has many fascinating stories of questionable ethics in the commissioning, creation, preservation and/or removal of our monuments.