The Soul of America by Jon Meacham

The Soul of America

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.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, in...

Details The Soul of America

TitleThe Soul of America
Release DateMay 8th, 2018
PublisherRandom House
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Politics, North American Hi..., American History

Reviews The Soul of America

  • Michael Ferro
    The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels should be required reading for every American in these divisive times. Now more than ever we need to not only recognize just how deep our societal division is, but remember that we have been in times like this before (though it's hard to remember) and come out a stronger nation... well, most of the time. Of particular interest to me was the study of the mythical "Lost Cause" and the pathos tha...
  • Bill Kerwin
    ”The past is never dead; it is not even past.”—William FaulknerIn August of 2017, after the deadly alt-right march in Charlottesville, Virginia, Time’s editor Nancy Gates called up Jon Meacham and asked him if he had any thoughts on the subject. The Pulitzer prize-winning historian—and son of the South who grew up on Missionary Ridge, battlefield of the Civil War—began to reflect on the words of Faulkner, and how the “American battl...
  • David Eppenstein
    "I've got the the biggest brains, I'm going to be the biggest man in the United States." Sound familiar ? Think you recognize the speaker? I thought so too. I was wrong. The speaker was a man named David Stephenson who was a major leader of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan in the 1920's who was subsequently arrested for kidnapping, rape, and murder of a young woman but was convicted of second degree murder. This book is full of quotes like this from hist...
  • Casey Wheeler
    I received a free Kindle copy of The Soul of America by Jon Meacham courtesy of Net Galley  and Random House, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my fiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages.I requested this book as I have read a number of books (all biographies) by the author and the description ...
  • Stephen
    My only complaint about this book, and it’s not minor, is it’s reactionary tone to Donald Trump. It’s as if only the rise of Trump gave rise to this book, and that weakens the message. The Soul of America and indeed the humanity that Meachum describes, is in all of us, American or not, no matter who is president. No matter the era. Make no mistake: The message is a good one for the national freak out currently in progress. Things have been ...
  • Lorna
    The Soul of America: The Battle For Our Better Angels is a beautiful book written to give one hope in these troubled times by veteran historian Jon Meacham. Basically, it recounts the struggles that this country has had from its beginnings and how many American presidents have risen to the occasion, as well as this country's influential activists, striving to keep this democracy alive and in the "search for the better angels of our nature.""We ar...
  • Kusaimamekirai
    It is easy perhaps in 2018 with the frequent vulgar twitter outbursts, invectives against enemies real and otherwise, and attempts to delegitimize the basic fabric of government coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (or Florida I suppose), that the American project is facing the greatest crisis it has ever faced. The author acknowledges that things are bad but he sees in America’s history that this moment is far from unique. From wars, to cripp...
  • Michelle
    This beautiful book uses the prism of American history to present the case that 'we've been here before' and 'this too shall pass'. Did it make me feel better? Sort of. The quotes from past presidents and historical figures of note are insightful, inspiration and, in some cases, moving. I can see Meacham's argument that this division and turmoil is nothing 'new', but has there ever been such an absence of moral leadership? Has there ever been a l...
  • Chris Carson
    Meacham is a superb storyteller, historian and Presidential scholar. His book is timely as our country faces the most (disgusting) unusual ascendency of a candidate to the office of President since Andy Jackson. The United States has survived and thrived because the majority of its citizens have followed the course of its “better angels.” Hopefully this abnormal interlude will end soon and the values that truly make our country great througho...
  • Barbara Hale
    I don't generally read non-fiction, other than memoirs, but this book was an excellent reminder of the struggles our country has gone through in the past, and how those struggles were handled by our leaders, some great, and some not so great.Historian Jon Meacham starts with the Constitutional Convention, takes us through the Civil War, Reconstruction, the rise of the KKK, World War 1, the Depression, The New Deal, World War II, McCarthyism, the ...
  • Brian Willis
    We live in scary times, with erratic and sometimes dangerous leadership, and with nearly everybody dissatisfied with leadership in Washington. International relations are on eggshells with the possibility of a major crisis.Several of my favorite American biographers are releasing books this year which are rather manuals on how to be an effective leader in these times of crisis: David McCullough, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Joseph J. Ellis. This is ...
  • Joseph Sciuto
    Jon Meacham's "The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels" is a must read, especially for those among us who are not familiar with the racism that has infested our great nation since the time of the American Revolution. Thankfully, as Mr. Meacham has so poignantly pointed out, with each infestation there have been men and women who have stood up to such evil and kept our nation on a path toward righteousness from Presidents Lincoln, Gr...
  • Michael Austin
    Jon Meacham's The Soul of America is this week's entry in what has become a major genre: a well-known academic or public intellectual writes a scholarly book for a popular audience that demonstrates just how much of an outlier--historically or politically--Donald Trump is. Among the books I have recently read in this genre are Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt's How Democracies Die, Robert Reich's The Common Good, Cass Sunstein's #Republic, Amy ...
  • Peter Mcloughlin
    Racial demagogues and people fighting for justice are part of the American story. Trump is playing notes that have been playing since colonial days. It is maddening that we are still playing this game and that we can't seem to move forward on this issue in this country. The same bigots seem to come at us with the same stupidity over and over again as if the worst of American history is recycled in slightly different (sometimes more menacing) pack...
  • Dan Graser
    There is no doubt in my mind that Jon Meacham is one of the finest historians in the world. While several prominent writers have written similar works to this in the past year, none is more thoroughly-researched or more eloquently stated. This quick traversal of several extreme moments in American history where the nation's principles were tested by parasitic bigotry and stupidity effectively lays out exactly how it was that the country moved, th...
  • Kelsey
    I don’t usually write reviews, however, I feel compelled to do so for this wonderful book. Jon Meacham has come up with a fascinating in-depth look at our fight for a more perfect union. Although this book took a few pages to hook me, it is a thorough and well thought out chronicle of our struggle for equality in a nation that has always aspired to become a more perfect and inclusive society. We as Americans, tend to pick and choose which high ...
  • Chris Burd
    I think Meacham does a great job of pulling together a series of historical vignettes that speak to the most challenging times in our history - and how we, as a nation, made it through. However, in hearing him speak of the book, Mr. Meacham points to these stories as proof that we can make it through this trying time of our current Presidential Administration. It's a great book - but I have a very different conclusion. I believe the book highligh...
  • Mary
    Outstanding historical survey of the darker moments and subsequent moral recoveries in our history. The point of this survey is to highlight how resilient America can be, even in the face of terrible people in power. Need I suggest that this book has relevance today?
  • Barbara
    Jon Meacham appears to have written this book in direct response to the political climate of the Trump era. Meacham is an excellent biographer who can set the scene for a variety of historical periods. This ability is of use in this book which describes many of the uglier periods of American history: reconstruction, the KKK, various anti-immigrant movements, actions which led to the Great Depression, continued racism, McCarthy-ism. Meacham moves ...
  • Sam
    “For Donald Trump’s opponents, he is the embodiment of regression. For Trump’s supporters, he is nothing less than an American messiah,” writes Jon Meacham in a USA Today op-ed piece. No doubt you could replace Trump with Obama and that sentence would be just as accurate. Ironically, I first read a Meacham book (his biography of Andrew Jackson) last year while at the beach, and my wife’s at the beach now. So maybe this will be a new tra...
  • Laura Powell
    I did not really finish this book I quit after the intro and first part. First, it just a condemnation of our president. I am not a Trump fan, but he will to be not be President forever. The book was not what I hoped-I loved his other books that I have read. I think this one was written is haste to make a point.
  • Herman
    The Soul of America by Jon Meacham subtitled The Battle for our Better Angels could be more accurately subtitled Don't trip this too shall pass, as the book is a long essay about political perspective during times of great political Angst. As a west coastie leftist liberal I know this book was written with me in mind, but it's a solidly good history book as well except for one glaring admission the entire book has maybe two lines in it about Nati...
  • Ruth
    Jon Meacham never disappoints. Thorough, thought-provoking, well-organized and finely writtten, The Soul of America is a timely exploration of America’s conscience and how it has served to guide us as a people through good times and bad. Meacham resists taking the easy way out by focusing only on the best of America’s actions. He explores the negative—the Ku Klux Klan, McCarthyism, isolationism, slavery—along with the best—Abraham Linco...
  • Aaron Million
    Jon Meacham, respected Presidential biographer and historian, takes a different tack with his latest book. Instead of writing about one President in particular, or one specific period of time in American history, he reviews the motivations, actions, and words of several Presidents during some crucial, highly divisive times. Clearly he is writing this in an effort to give some encouragement to those citizens who are deeply concerned about the curr...
  • Tom
    implicit in the idea of progress is a goal. There has to be something toward which one is striving. The notion of progress is inherent in Christian culture and likely Islam as well. In a spiritual sense there is an ideal, heaven or paradise, to which one strives. This derives from the Platonic ideals. When we talk about social progress, the goal is less clear and virtually never made explicit. For some, principally on the political right, social ...
  • Julia
    The intent of this book of history, biography and political science is to remind Americans that we have been in truly horrible situations before, as a country, and we have come out of them a stronger, more progressive nation. It is a hopeful book, for that reason it is unusual and inspiring. “In the best of moments, witness, protest, and resistance can intersect with the leadership of an American president to lift us to higher ground. In darker...
  • Ted Daniels
    Mr. Meacham sets out to show us that, even though things might look a little grim for those of us on the left side of the political fence, America has worked through much more difficult challenges in the past. He starts with Reconstruction in the South following the Civil War, leading to the KKK, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, segregation, white supremacists, and our ongoing struggle with civil rights. The book also addresses the battle for women's su...
  • Gary Anderson
    The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels clearly draws on our current national turmoil as historian Jon Meacham makes the case that we’ve been here before, and not just once but many times. Our national politics have included slavery, incomplete Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan, discrimination against a wide range of nationalities and minorities, internment of Japanese-Americans, accusations of treason against inn...
  • Lester
    It doesn’t matter if you lived through, or are well versed in the many historical moments of American history that Meacham discuses in his newest book. When you think you’ve already read the wisest authors, you will still profit from this master professor’s perspective. For one thing, Meacham is terrific at what a Professor does best: bringing disparate views of historians into play with one another, and contextualizing the big ideas. He ra...
  • Kate
    When this book comes out in paperback, I will buy and reread it. At first I didn’t think there was much to it because it seemed to be made up mostly of quotes from presidents, other politicians, and other writings. The difficulty with audiobooks is you can’t determine ahead of time how the book is structured. I soon realized that the point was to remind us of the many ups and downs our country has gone through over the centuries, seen though ...