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  • The Soul of America

  • The Battle for Our Better Angels
  • By: Jon Meacham
  • Narrated by: Fred Sanders, Jon Meacham
  • Length: 10 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (44 ratings)

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The Soul of America cover art

The Soul of America

By: Jon Meacham
Narrated by: Fred Sanders, Jon Meacham
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Summary

Number-one New York Times best seller

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, and 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)

©2018 Jon Meacham (P)2018 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic reviews

“This is a brilliant, fascinating, timely, and above all profoundly important book. Jon Meacham explores the extremism and racism that have infected our politics, and he draws enlightening lessons from the knowledge that we’ve faced such trials before. We have come through times of fear. We have triumphed over our dark impulses. With compelling narratives of past eras of strife and disenchantment, Meacham offers wisdom for our own time and helps us appreciate the American soul: the heart, the core, and the essence of what it means to have faith in our nation.” (Walter Isaacson)

“Rather than curse the darkness, Jon Meacham, with his usual eloquence and surpassing knowledge of our history, has offered us all the sublime and calming reassurance that as threatening as so much of the present moment seems, Americans have weathered such storms before and come out on the other side with fresh and progressive horizons. This is a beautifully expressed and convincing prayer to summon our own ‘better angels’ to meet the obvious challenges of today.” (Ken Burns)

What listeners say about The Soul of America

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A way to understand America better

Fascinating insight and nuance on the path to progress America has been on over the last 200+ years, told through excellent profiles of the presidents who've managed to move the country forward. Invaluable perspective with which to view the challenges the country faces today.

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An excellent historical and politically relevant narrative

This is a riveting and very instructive historical narrative and very uplifting. It shows that no matter how bad things seem today, history shows that worse has been faced and overcome over time: a positive and uplifting message for the future and future generations!
My mood now is also 5* - thank you Jon Meacham!!
(And yes I believe 100% in the importance of history in instruction)

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A Must Read Book

This is an amazing book. As a non-american it gave me a glimpse of the politics and political minds of influential politicians from Independence to the present day. Never realised the massive role President Lyndon Johnson played in Civil Rights. Also, profoundly disappointed at so many proponents of segregation in the Democratic Party down the decades. My bad, my ignorance. Congratulations Jon Meacham, with minds like yours there is hope for USA.

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