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

  • 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...
  • Elizabeth George
    If there were a six star category, I would give this book six stars. It's a book that should be read by every thinking American who is worried, concerned, or devastated by what is going on and has gone on in our country since Donald Trump was elected President. Yet....this is a hopeful book. Meacham posits that we have been in desperate situations before as a country, and we have survived. He covers everything from the Civil War to the establishm...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • HBalikov
    It is time to put The Soul of America on the shelf for a while. I keep on coming back to sections such as his discussion of the iterations of the KKK. Meacham is a fine historian and this may be his finest ever. IT IS THE BEST BOOK THAT I READ IN 2018. He can acknowledge where we have fallen short but describes with precision and passion what brought us back from disaster as a democracy.I have delved into Fire and Fury, Fear (by Woodward) and Com...
  • Faith
    This author is considerably more hopeful and inspirational about the current state of our country than many of the books I have read recently. I hope that he is correct that leaders of character will emerge to appeal to our better natures, but they certainly aren't emerging in the White House or Congress at the moment. He examines many times in which we have been tested and actually managed to survive the test and make things better for people, r...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • Scott S.
    "He . . . understood people, and when it came time to make decisions, he was willing to take the responsibility . . . He had a good head and a great brain and a kind heart . . . He was the best kind of ordinary man. I mean that as high praise, not deprecation . . . He's one of the people and becomes distinguished in the service that he gives other people." -- Harry S. Truman on Abraham Lincoln Author Meacham details various moments in U.S. histor...
  • Michelle Keill
    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...
  • 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...
  • Aura
    I watched Jon Meacham on the Real Time by Bill Maher. He talked about how he is hopeful for the future and trump is nothing new in American history. I decided that I needed to read this book because I needed something uplifting to read. As I listened to this audiobook, I did not feel reassured nor hopeful. I still feel fearful of the future of America. Most of this book is a recounting of history from the civil war, reconstruction, the rise of th...
  • David Huff
    “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible,” the theologian and thinker Reinhold Niebuhr wrote in 1944, “but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” We try; we fail; but we must try again, and again, and again, for only in trial is progress possible. -- Jon MeachamThis was a fascinating and a timely read, filled with both historical insight and hope. There are in our current times any number of reasons for...
  • Hayley
    I wish Jon Meachum would narrate all his audiobooks; his voice is wonderful to listen to. Excellent books, perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about history and our politicians foibles.
  • LemonLinda
    This is such an important book to read if you have concerns regarding what the implications may be resulting from positions taken and rhetoric spoken by our current administration. Meacham speaks to times such as this throughout American history when we have faced dark days, but we have triumphed and those darker impulses have been rebuked. He speaks to numerous divisions at various times in our history and how we have healed afterwards. This boo...
  • Ctgt
    The story of America is thus one of slow, often unsteady steps forward. If we expect the trumpets of a given era to sound unwavering notes, we will be disappointed, for the past tells us that politics is an uneven symphony.Meacham attempts to reassure us that though these times seem fraught with disaster there have been numerous moments in the past where we have been able to rise above and push through to better times.Every generation tends to th...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Mehrsa
    This is a really hopeful book, but also a little boring. The end passage is the most vital. Things are not worse than they have been and we can get over it. The message may be more optimistic than is my usual leaning, but he does show how racism, xenophobia, corruption, etc have always been with us and so have the drives toward equality, acceptance, and reform.
  • 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 ...
  • Clif
    This is a book to give people hope when for many Americans the election of Donald Trump heralds a very low point in the nation's history. Some wonder if our democracy can survive. The author wants readers to know that the course of a nation is never smooth, swinging from times we would rather forget to others we are proud to recall. Have courage, hope and don't give up Jon Meacham tells us.Specifically mentioning Trump, Meacham wants us to know t...
  • Jon
    I am no great student of American history, so there is much in this book that I didn't know. I found out--with a chill--that Lee surrendered to Grant on Palm Sunday of 1865, and Lincoln was shot five days later on Good Friday. I have never read such a thorough description of the way racism, fear, and hatred have warped our history--how the south may have lost slavery in 1865, but it was determined (and still is) not to lose white supremacy or sta...
  • 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 ...
  • Steven Z.
    Reading Jon Meacham’s latest historical work, THE SOUL OF AMERICA: THE BATTLE FOR OUR BETTER ANGELS at the same time as the federal government is separating immigrant families into “relocation centers” reminiscent of Japanese internment camps during World War II is extremely disturbing. It is not a stretch to label the Trump administration’s immigration policies as racist when one considers the language and comments of those like Steven M...
  • Barbara (The Bibliophage)
    Jon Meacham is an author, historian, professor, and commentator. He has the long view on the politics of today’s world. And he explains what that means in his latest book, The Soul of America.His premise is that our country has had many previous bouts of unrest, with politicians making unpopular decisions. There’ve been many previous movements to topple legislators and other leaders with discriminatory policies. And, quoting Abraham Lincoln, ...
  • Scott Hitchcock
    3.5*'s A good book on the history of American inequality. I was hoping the author was going to branch out a bit but all the material has been covered before and if I'm being honest it's been covered better. Since Trump's election the amount of books to the far left and right seem to have become ubiquitous as never before. Both sides trying to slant things to their side. I will say the author stuck to the facts and did give Ike and Truman a lot of...
  • Glee
    Jon Meacham takes the long view of American history in an attempt to put our current turmoil in context. While it is painful to remember just how awful previous historical periods were, he also reminds us that we climbed out of those low valleys. And although his overall construction is one of two steps forward, one step back, he does remind us that the overall trajectory over time is that we have improved. I generally accepted his thesis, with o...