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The Story of American Freedom (Norton Paperback) 8/18/99 Edition
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- Fred Anderson, Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Succinct, information-packed, wonderfully readable.... An excellent choice for serious readers.”
- Pauline Maier, New York Times Book Review
“Foner tackles the whole drama of American history. He succeeds, with far-reaching intelligence and a genial respect for his reader.”
- Mark Greif, Boston Sunday Globe
“A masterful book... that covers two centuries of courage, violence, achievement, and unfulfilled dreams in the quest for liberty.”
- Herbert Mitgang, Newsday
“A thought-provoking look at the historical uses of freedom in the United States.”
- Seattle Times
“Powerful.... Eric Foner has held up a mirror and asked us as a people to take a good, hard look at ourselves. It is incumbent on us not to turn away.”
- Raleigh News & Observer
About the Author
- Item Weight : 13.6 ounces
- ISBN-10 : 0393319628
- ISBN-13 : 978-0393319620
- Paperback : 448 pages
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; 8/18/99 edition (September 17, 1999)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #156,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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While showing the reader how ideas about freedom have changed in American over time, Foner also tells readers the story about how ideas about who is entitled to the rights, benefits, and privileges of freedom have changed over time in America. Using a framework of the social, economic, and political spheres to help frame this part of the story, Foner masterfully demonstrates to the reader how freedom and its benefits not only don't exist on their own in a vacuum, but that freedom and its benefits have not always been considered a universal right or equally available to everyone in America over time.
The story of the changing meaning of freedom in America is an important one, but equally important is Foner's magnificent effort to help the reader understand that freedom--while having very tangible and concrete facets and features--is not a monolithic or static thing that just “is”, is promised to everyone, or something to be taken for granted.
Especially in these times, this should be a no brainer...the print size is impossibly tiny, hard on the eyes, hard to highlight
I'm not far in, but its obvious that this is a serious and seminal work and it would be far more accessible to the Gentle Reader if a digitized copy were available
You might say, our understandings of freedom are continually being forged in real life conflicts over its meanings wheather it was slavery, segregation, women's right to vote, unions, and the current freedom issues of gay marriage etc. In the end, Foner's book provides the reader with a deep understanding of how our notions of freedom have and continues to evolve. Foner educates us about American history and what it means to be an American. A great and optimistic book and a must read for anyone who want's to understand the fundamental character of our nation amd the core of the American Identity.
Top reviews from other countries
In a remarkably restrained manner, given the contentiousness of the matter he's dealing with, Foner takes us through the debates that surrounded the formation of the American constitution, how the founders rationalised their "free" State with Slavery. In the early years of the Republic leading up to the Civil War itself he covers the debates between free and slave labour and covers the expansion of the United States West at the expense of Mexico and the Native Americans. The sections that cover the Civil War and the period of Reconstruction are, as to be expected, excellent summaries of those times. The book then moves on to cover the Populist and Progressive era, World War One and the subsequent "Red Scare" before moving on to the Depression and the heated debates about the economic aspects of Freedom and what the role of the State was to promote economic freedom for ordinary Americans when the "free" market had so obviously failed. The Cold War, from McCarthyism to Regans support of "freedom" fighters in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Angola is also covered as well as the blossoming of dissent during the 1960's during the Vietnam war and after the stultifying McCarthyite era. The book as a whole deals with what freedom meant in terms of personal liberties, as well as the economic and political spheres. It would have been nice to get his view on the reign of Bush II but unfortunately the book was written in the late 1990's.
The Text is accompanied by a number of illustrations that are indicative of different eras and interests attitude to freedom. The typeface is awful, but one gets used to it after the first couple of chapters. If you want a good introduction which deals with the concept of "freedom" as argued and fought over in the United States this book fits the bill admirably. Other books that cover specific periods in more detail would include Foners book on Reconstruction cited above, for McCarthyism Ellen Schreckers The Age of McCarthyism , for the Cold War period as a whole Francis Stonor Saunders Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War . Edward Morgan's American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia is an excellent study of a specific geographical area that covers the contradiction between freedom and slavery in a manner that is relevant to the American experience as a whole.