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Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of…
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Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America's Founding Ideas

by David Hackett Fischer

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A comprehensive look at the history of liberty and freedom in the United States. Fischer gets into the details of what these words have actually meant at different times, and how they have been represented. Liberty is basically being independent and autonomous, while freedom is being part of a community (with its rights and responsibilities)--basically, America has always combined (and debated) these ideas in various ways.
I like Fischer's view of history as based on contingency; that is, things aren't inevitable. Also, a consistent idea appears: that in politics, those who successfully portray their ideas as being connected with liberty and freedom (rather than equality) will succeed.
As the book enters recent history, I think the authors opinions on certain events may pop up too frequently, but I do like the idea in his conclusion that liberty and freedom can't be reproduced in the same way. It seems that the world does seem to move toward more liberty and freedom, but American leaders need to remember that they can't simply copy the U.S. onto other countries/cultures, but must allow the ideas to grow in ways that fit with their history. ( )
  saholc | Jan 7, 2009 |
Basic points of the review I wrote that got deleted:
-good analysis of visual material in first 2/3 of the book - but this deteriorates toward the end
-dismisses scholars who disagree with him as "revisionist"
-lack of minority and non-western European visions of liberty and freedom leaves the reader wondering about the millions of Americans whose voices are absent (example - when discussing Japanese Americans interned during WWII, he quotes government officials without letting Japanese Americans speak for themselves) ( )
  Corinne | Sep 10, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195162536, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:36 -0400)

A distinguished history and author of Washington's Crossing analyzes the concepts of liberty and freedom through visions, images, and symbols throughout the folk history of those ideas, showing how they are popular beliefs deeply embedded in American culture rather than political abstractions. 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.… (more)

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