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Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America's Founding Ideas, by Fischer
Liberty and freedom: Americans agree that these values are fundamental to our nation, but what do they mean? How have their meanings changed through time? In this new volume of cultural history, David Hackett Fischer shows how these varying ideas form an intertwined strand that runs through the core of American life.
Fischer examines liberty and freedom not as philosophical or political abstractions, but as folkways and popular beliefs deeply embedded in American culture. Tocqueville called them "habits of the heart." From the earliest colonies, Americans have shared ideals of liberty and freedom, but with very different meanings. Like DNA these ideas have transformed and recombined in each generation.
The book arose from Fischer's discovery that the words themselves had differing origins: the Latinate "liberty" implied separation and independence. The root meaning of "freedom" (akin to "friend") connoted attachment: the rights of belonging in a community of freepeople. The tension between the two senses has been a source of conflict and creativity throughout American history.
Liberty & Freedom studies the folk history of those ideas through more than 400 visions, images, and symbols. It begins with the American Revolution, and explores the meaning of New England's Liberty Tree, Pennsylvania's Liberty Bells, Carolina's Liberty Crescent, and "Don't Tread on Me" rattlesnakes. In the new republic, the search for a common American symbol gave new meaning to Yankee Doodle, Uncle Sam, Miss Liberty, and many other icons. In the Civil War, Americans divided over liberty and freedom. Afterward, new universal visions were invented by people who had formerly been excluded from a free society--African Americans, American Indians, and immigrants. The twentieth century saw liberty and freedom tested by enemies and contested at home, yet it brought the greatest outpouring of new visions, from Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms to Martin Luther King's "dream" to Janis Joplin's "nothin' left to lose."
Illustrated in full color with a rich variety of images, Liberty and Freedom is, literally, an eye-opening work of history--stimulating, large-spirited, and ultimately, inspiring.
Iconography of Liberty and Freedom
By S. Pactor "reader"
- January 3, 2005
This is the third book in the four book (projected) that Fischer began with the seminal "Albion's Seed".
Liberty and Freedom is devoted to those two concepts, which Fischer holds are key to understanding the culture of America. Fischer uses quilts, flags, photos, paintings, sculpture and pretty much anything else under the sun(toilet decorated with a bald eagle, anyone?) to illustrate this thesis.
Clearly, Fischer is concerned with the idea of America. What is most novel about this book is the way that Fischer tries to assimilate some of the newer teachings of social history with the the method of traditional history(focus on military events/political leaders).
Never one to shy away from histiographical concerns, Fischer illustrates these varying approaches in a short appendix.
This book is of high quality, copiously illustrated and is published in conjunction with a touring museum exhibition that is travelling as far west as St. Louis (as... read more
America's finest historian outdoes himself
By Odysseus "A Traveller"
- December 11, 2005
David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed established him as one of the finest historians writing for a general audience. Since the publication of that landmark history, Fischer has produced a number of outstanding books, including among them Paul Revere's Ride, and Washington's Crossing, each of which skillfully demonstrates how cultural forces, reflected in individual decisions and actions, affected the course of events at a critical fork in the historical road.
This latest work from Fischer compares favorably to his greatest works, and is a plausible candidate for his finest effort yet.
To be great history, a work must succeed on several levels. One is that it must be interesting -- the reader must feel compelled to press on. Another is that it must be informative; it should educate, ideally in a fair way, conveying what is most important, and minimizing the influence of author bias. But the acid test of what makes for a great history may be whether it enables... read more
A WINNER FOR THE SYMBOL-MINDED
By Whitney Smith
- December 1, 2004
If you're interested in American symbols of all kinds and/or in the varied and changing attitudes Americans have had toward liberty and freedom, this is a must-have book. Well-organized, easy to read but profound, with over 500 illustrations, this book again marks David Hackett Fischer as an author with a unique understanding of how the country's present has developed out of a past few Americans understand. Bravo, David!
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