The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels

Front Cover
Random House Publishing Group, Apr 30, 2019 - History - 416 pages
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * 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.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR * The Christian Science Monitor * Southern Living

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.

Praise for The Soul of America


"Brilliant, fascinating, timely . . . With compelling narratives of past eras of strife and disenchantment, Meacham offers wisdom for our own time."--Walter Isaacson

"Gripping and inspiring, The Soul of America is Jon Meacham's declaration of his faith in America."--Newsday

"Meacham gives readers a long-term perspective on American history and a reason to believe the soul of America is ultimately one of kindness and caring, not rancor and paranoia."--USA Today
 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
8
4 stars
2
3 stars
2
2 stars
0
1 star
1

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Jthierer - LibraryThing

This was a pleasant enough walk through U.S. history, but it felt a bit thin to me. The premise of the book, presumably, was that America has been through rough times in the past and came out the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - terriks - LibraryThing

I find Meacham a calming voice during this time in our history. Which, of course, is the point he's trying to make - through the lens of the historic references he presents, our republic has been ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
3
Two
28
THREE
53
FOUR
76
A NEW AND GOOD THING IN THE WORLD
96
Six
142
SEVEN
190
CONCLUSION
256
Authors Note and Acknowledgments
273
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2019)

Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer. The author of the New York Times bestsellers Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, Franklin and Winston, Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, and The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, he is a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University, a contributing writer for The New York Times Book Review, and a fellow of the Society of American Historians. Meacham lives in Nashville and in Sewanee with his wife and children.

Bibliographic information