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Story Of American Freedom [Paperback]

Eric Foner
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Freedom, Eric Foner writes, is "the oldest of clichés and the most modern of aspirations." But what does it mean to be free? For the people of the United States, the concept of "freedom"--and its counterpart, "liberty"--have had widely differing meanings over the centuries. The Story of American Freedom, therefore, "is not a mythic saga with a predetermined beginning and conclusion, but an open-ended history of accomplishment and failure, a record of a people forever contending about the crucial ideas of their political culture."

Foner begins with the colonial era, when the Puritans believed that liberty was rooted in voluntary submission to God and civil authorities, and consisted only in the right to do good. John Locke, too, would argue that liberty did not consist of the lack of restraint, but of "a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the legislative power." Foner reveals the ideological conflicts that lay at the heart of the American Revolution and the Civil War, the shifts in thought about what freedom is and to whom it should apply. Adeptly charting the major trends of 20th-century American politics--including the invocation of freedom as a call to arms in both world wars--Foner concludes by contrasting the two prevalent movements of the 1990s: the liberal articulation of freedom, grounded in Johnson's Great Society and the rhetoric of the New Left, as the provision of civil rights and economic opportunity for all citizens, and the conservative vision, perhaps most fully realized during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, of a free-market economy and decentralized political power. The Story of American Freedom is a sweeping synthesis, delivered in clearheaded language that makes the ongoing nature of the American dream accessible to all readers. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Distinguished Columbia historian Foner frames American history as a continuing fight for freedom.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The concept of "freedom" as a driving force in American history is often dismissed by Marxists, neo-Beardians, and revisionists as a smoke screen to cover the clash of competing economic interests. Foner, professor of history at Columbia University, acknowledges that different groups put different slants on the meaning of freedom. He also deals effectively with the exclusion of various groups from the benefits of freedom. Nevertheless, Foner sees America's commitment to freedom as a genuine, living ideal, which has inspired its citizens and driven them to heights of achievement and sacrifice. In a panorama of the struggle for freedom, Foner provides interesting insights into the labor movement, feminism, and the struggle for civil rights. This work will be a worthy addition to a public library's American history collection. Jay Freeman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

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. "

About the Author

Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, is the prize-winning author of many books, including the landmark work Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution and A House Divided: America in the Age of Lincoln, available in Norton paperback.
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