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The Soul of America
The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels | Jon Meacham
Pulitzer Prizewinning 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, 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 womens 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 Johnsons 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 feara struggle that continues even now. While the American story has not alwaysor even oftenbeen 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 beforeas, time and again, Lincolns better angels have found a way to prevail. Advance praise for The Soul of America Meacham has written this exceptionally fluent and stirring portrait of hours in which the politics of fear were prevalent in America out of profound knowledge, respect, and love for the nation. . . . This engrossing, edifying, many-voiced chronicle, subtly propelled by concern over the troubled Trump administration, calls on readers to defend democracy, decency, and the common good.Booklist (starred review) This is a brilliant, fascinating, timely, and above all profoundly important book.Walter Isaacson
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Susanita
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I‘m not going to put the bail tag on this and pull down the ratings BUT ... I tried three times to read it and just couldn‘t even. To me it just seemed to jump all over the place and spew quotes at the reader. Maybe I just have enough #politicalintrigue in my Twitter feed!

Definitely check out the author discussing the book in an interview though. There‘s at least one online which is similar to his excellent talk at #NatBookFest last year.

Megabooks I returned this to audible. 🤷🏻‍♀️ 2mo
Susanita @Megabooks In the middle of the night when I couldn‘t get back to sleep, I regretted being so hasty returning the audiobook! 2mo
34 likes2 comments
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Nebklvr
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Pickpick

This was very interesting. I learned a lot more about Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Definitely time well spent!

Ericalambbrown Right? I loved this book! I hadn‘t read anything of his before, but I heard him on NPR and gave it a go. I need to check out his new one 3mo
Nebklvr @Ericalambbrown ohhh... that does sound good! I have read quite a bit about the Roosevelts but still learned a great deal from this book! 3mo
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Christinak
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A friend recommended this so I checked this out from the library. Wow! What a book. Luckily my library book sale had a copy and I picked it up.

I already have a few friends who will borrow this now that I‘m done. This is a book I think we should all read but most importantly we need to talk about it.

Theaelizabet My husband gave it to me for Christmas. Hope to get to it soon. 7mo
44 likes1 comment
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Susanita
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My office is hosting a big event today, and I‘m taking a shift at “gate duty” helping our guests find their way. I came out 15 minutes early! 🤦🏻‍♀️

It‘s 40 degrees out here! I‘m learning to appreciate the thankless work our security guards do. I‘m seeing some interesting and unexpected driver-vehicle combinations. I‘m thinking about what else I need to be doing instead of standing out here.

CloudLibrary to the rescue!

DivineDiana Curious about the driver/vehicle combinations?!? Glad you can read a bit! 👏🏻 8mo
Susanita @DivineDiana I think the best one was a sweet faced young man with the vanity plate DEMONIO 8mo
DivineDiana 😳 8mo
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goodbyefrancie
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Sunday evening soundtrack. #Overdrive #audio

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Ericalambbrown
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I read a lot of great books this year. It‘s impossible to choose the best. Lots that entertained me or taught me things. So many made me think or question my preconceptions. I chose the tagged book because it soothed me. It gave great historical examples of how our country has come through ugly, divisive times to fight another day. It also showed how people with imperfect character overcame it to stand up to injustice knowing they may lose. #2018

Allthebookclubs What in the world is your profile picture? I can‘t zoom in and it‘s creeping me out... 11mo
Ericalambbrown @Allthebookclubs Hahahaha!!!! That is Nigel, my garden zombie. He goes out in the fall and I typically bring him back in before Thanksgiving. Last year I had put up a Christmas tree in my kitchen and remembered I‘d left Sir Nigel outside. I brought him in, and put him in the sink to wash him off. I took that pic and posted it with caption “change is hard.” 🤣 I‘m a weirdo. 😂 (edited) 11mo
Allthebookclubs Ohhhhh. 👍🏼😂 11mo
44 likes3 comments
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Lissa00
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Pickpick

If you read a lot of American history, this is lighter fare but it is worth reading for the beautifully written conclusion alone. Thoughtful, hopeful and informative, I almost tore the conclusion out to staple and carry in my purse (don‘t worry...I didn‘t).

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BarbaraTheBibliophage
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Pickpick

Meacham‘s 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, “the better angels of our nature” win out. May it work one more time, every time.

Full review www.TheBibliophage.com
#thebibliohage2018

Tamra 🤞🏾🤞🏾 Sure is demoralizing in the meantime. 13mo
BarbaraTheBibliophage @Tamra I agree. We just have to keep fighting. 13mo
Karkar As Pete Souza says... “Throw Shade, Then vote”. 🤓 13mo
Pamwurtzler @Karkar Exactly! 13mo
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cdreincarnate
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Mehso-so

Not sure how I feel about this book. It covers some of the most tumultuous times in our country‘s history with a focus on how the president at the time reacted. The ending felt like he wanted to leave the reader with a sense of hope, but that‘s hard when you compare our current WH resident with the much more qualified leaders of our past.

That said, I still learned a lot from this book and would definitely recommend it.

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BarbaraTheBibliophage
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Next audiobook listen. This one‘s heavy, and I‘m glad I have an ARC to refer back to. I have to work very hard not to let my mind wander ... but it is interesting.

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JoyBlue
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Pickpick

See comments.

JoyBlue NYT Book Review says, "Appalled by the ascendancy of Donald J. Trump ... Meacham returns to other moments in our history when fear and division seemed rampant. He wants to remind us that the current political turmoil is not unprecedented, that as a nation we have survived times worse than this. . . . Meacham tries to summon the better angels by looking back at when America truly has been great." 14mo
JoyBlue Overall, I was more infuriated than hopeful. We have taken *so many steps backward*. I'll have to consider further after digestion.

Meacham jumped around quite a bit within sections (people having died and then being alive again; people during different phases of their service, out of order), which was confusing/frustrating.
14mo
Leftcoastzen I was curious about this book. 14mo
JoyBlue @Leftcoastzen If you read it, feel free to come back & discuss. 😉👍🏼 14mo
51 likes4 comments
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VinceReads
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Pickpick

Meachem has, at least to me, an uncanny ability to draw you in to his books. Non-fiction isn‘t always top of my list to read, though I do wish to read more of it. The writing is phenomenal and I generally don‘t fly through books like this but I did with this one.

5/5

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GAustin
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Started two books today. Both holding my attention. #TheSoulofAmerica & #Factfulness. Cheers!

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Jennie748
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That car rider pick-up line life! Hoping to finish this book tonight.

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kimgnix
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I loved these pavement signs at the Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson. This was my second time attending this event and it doesn't disappoint. #literarylawnparty #bookfestival

Kimzey Yay! Book festivals! 📚❤️😊 1y
15 likes1 comment
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kimgnix
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Karl Rove and Jon Meacham had a very entertaining discussion at the Mississippi Book Festival today. #literarylawnparty

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Ericalambbrown
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Pickpick

I am so glad I read this book. Mr Meacham has done a wonderful job of telling a few stories of our nation‘s past that have an awful lot in common with our present. We Americans have been here many times before - divided and in discord - with leaders that are often simultaneously great and flawed. I felt this book was even-handed and historically fair. Mr Meacham gives the sweet and the sour of presidents of both parties with superb annotation.

Suet624 Sounds interesting! 1y
Ericalambbrown @Suet624 , if you like to read history I highly recommend this one 1y
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jant.reads
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"For all our darker impulses, for all our shortcomings, and for all of the dreams denied and deferred, the experiment...is worth the fight."

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Jen2
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Sometimes it is hard to stay informed!

ReadingEnvy Do you know where this is from? 1y
Jadams1776 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻 1y
Leftcoastzen 👍looks like New Yorker 1y
CoffeeK8 I saw this on the New Yorker‘s Facebook page today 1y
SandyW I can relate! 1y
139 likes5 comments
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emilygatlin
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Woodrow Wilson, 1908.

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Judybskt
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1. Any series by Beatriz Williams - love her! 2. Mad Men - I may have to watch again! 3. Yes!! ⚾️ 4. Haven‘t planned anything yet! Salmon maybe! 5. Yes! Bought him the book titled here for Fathers Day. Also bought it for my husband. #friyayintro @jesshowbooks - thanks! That was fun!

SilversReviews LOVE Beatriz Williams‘ books...I didn‘t know we could call them a series.....thanks....now I will. :) 1y
Judybskt Her books about the Schuyler Sisters felt like a series. 😂 1y
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emilygatlin
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Save us, Jon Meacham.

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Melwilk
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Pickpick

I ordered this book after watching Meacham give Barbara Bush‘s eulogy and watching him on various shows. It‘s a very interesting book that puts the current political climate into perspective. It illustrates that America has generally been dragged kicking and screaming to be socially progressive. Our current tribalism politics isn‘t necessarily unique, and hopefully we will find our better angels to help us continue to move forward.

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JWHeyman
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Ericalambbrown
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I just listened to a fantastic interview on Fresh Air by this author. I wanted to stack the book and share for any other history nerds out there. I learned new stuff about Harding, Coolidge, and Truman just from the interview alone. Here‘s the link if interested: https://www.npr.org/2018/05/02/607704116/soul-of-america-makes-sense-of-americas...

tsutrav I came here after hearing the same interview. It sounds like a solid read. It‘ll be interesting to compare it to some of the other “books about America today” that are out. 2y
Ericalambbrown @tsutrav I like how he talked about times in our history that don‘t always get much attention. His previous books have been very well annotated, which I always appreciate 2y
tsutrav That is good to hear as I‘ve not read any Meacham. But if this turns out to be what I think it is, I‘ll have to look up the others. 2y
See All 6 Comments
BarbaraTheBibliophage Thanks for the link. I have this one on my NetGalley shelf. Looking forward to it! 2y
Ericalambbrown Me, too, @BarbaraTheBibliophage ! I should be getting it soon (I forgot to preorder). LOVE your handle, by the way! Book eater . . . Awesome! 2y
BarbaraTheBibliophage Haha. Yup it‘s a fun moniker! Thanks. 2y
17 likes1 stack add6 comments