The Soul of America: ~ by Jon Meacham

Wow!  Maybe I’m just the right audience at the right time and place but it seems this is the book I’ve been wanting to read – the book whose main idea mirrors my own in terms of where this country is now and where it’s been and where it’s going.  The Pinker books (The Better Angels of Our Natures and Enlightenment Now –  links are  to my own reviews) almost did it but not quite –

The question is –  Are we doomed in some way?  Or is there light at the end of the tunnel – is the seeming backslide into divisions and some kind of feudal economic system in a crumbling environment?



The Soul of America:  The Battle for Our Better Angels
by Jon Meacham
2018/ 416 pages
read by Fred Sanders – 10h 54m
rating:  10  / history and current events

I read this book for the All-Nonfiction  group where I believe I nominated it because of the author and the subject.   Stephen Pinker wrote The Better Angels of Our Nature which I read back in 2012 and  then another book,  Enlightenment Now which I read this very years.  Meacham’s book takes a similar stand except that he approaches it through US political history.

The phrase,  “the better angels of our natures… ”  is from Abraham Lincoln’s 1st inaugural address –  no,  Lincoln was not perfect,  but Meacham puts him into perspective.

Jon Meacham has taken up the argument that civilization is improving and providing humanity with better lives.

Meacham’s an optimist.  He says we in the United States, have seen very troubled times before and this book takes the reader back to the end of the Civil War then through Reconstruction,  Teddy Roosevelt, the Ku Klux Klan,  the Great Depression, the Red Scares,  Huey Long,   and so on –  JFK, Martin Luther King and on through Ronald Reagan and in the conclusion, Barack Obama.  Donald Trump is mentioned in a few scattered places.

We’ve seen fear and hatred which fosters division and turmoil in many areas –  racial, ethnic,  gender and religious intolerance and strife – economic oppression.  The list goes on.

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1 Response to The Soul of America: ~ by Jon Meacham

  1. jameswharris says:

    I’m listening to The Soul of America when I bike in the morning. It’s an impressive and inspiring book. It’s a shame we’re on that side of the pendulum swing where fear reigns and that’s building a landscape hate. I want to get back on the hopeful side of the swing where people are more loving.

    I’ve decided it comes down to hope or fear. Fearful people justify immoral or unethical behaviors, like separating children from their families. For the rest of our lives, a good portion of the U.S. white population is going to fear people of color. Building walls or enacting zero tolerance laws will not stop desperate folks wanting to come to America.

    If Donald Trump had been born in Guatemala he would come here searching for a better life, he has that personality to get ahead whatever the costs.

    Until we can find some hope for the fearful, things are only going to get worse, and the soul of America will be in jeopardy.


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