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The Story of American Freedom

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  396 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Freedom: a promised land, a battleground, America's cultural bond and fault line. The Declaration of Independence lists liberty among mankind's inalienable rights; the Constitution was framed to secure liberty's blessings. The United States bought the Civil War to bring about a new birth of freedom, World War II for the Four Freedoms, and the Cold War to defend the Free Wo ...more
Hardcover, 422 pages
Published December 31st 1998 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1977)
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Adam S. Rust
Aug 03, 2014 Adam S. Rust rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a solid introductory text to the history of American political theory and practice. It focuses on the various meanings and uses of the word "freedom" (frequently in relation to its opposite, slavery and, later, fascism and communism). Foner does an excellent job of showing how the various definitions begin and transform over time.

As a historian of the Civil War and Reconstruction, Foner has a sharp eye for historical irony. In this book, the most obvious example is the idea of "fre
Dan Gorman
Jan 10, 2015 Dan Gorman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It doesn't reinvent the wheel as far as narrative syntheses go, but Eric Foner's Story of American Freedom is a fun, well-written read. Foner argues that American freedom lacks a fixed definition through time, but rather has had many different meanings, over which various groups have fought. Foner really excels here in his coverage of economic and social movements, as well as highlighting the stop-start progress in this country on women's and minority rights. The material and thesis may seem pas ...more
Timothy Riley
I felt while reading this book that it is especially pertinent given the current political stalemate in US politics with both sides promising that they truly represent freedom and liberty as the founding fathers designed. A large portion, but not overly so, is on the slavery debate. The argument against, using the concept of freedom and liberty, is pretty straight forward that slavery represents the theft of another human's rights and is wrong. The argument for was more convoluted in that the de ...more
Yifan (Evan) Xu (Hsu)
The book is a historical narrative of how the ideology of "freedom" chronically evolved in America. It's main purposes are to introduce the historical knowledge of "freedom" and use them to justify US government intervention and consequent decline of classic liberal.

I know that many with their blushed faces would shout at me about how wrong I am. Well, my view can be supported by reasoning. However, that is not the topic here. We can look forward to that in future book reviews.

Back to this b
Simon Wood
Jan 02, 2014 Simon Wood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Eric Foner is a marvellous historian who has written a number of books on the American Civil War and the post-war Reconstruction including the brilliant "Reconstruction" which is practically the standard overview of that period. In his "The Story of American Freedom" he widens his view to encompass the concept of Freedom, its changing and fought over meanings in the whole period of American history from the War of Independence to the end of the twentieth century.

In a remarkably restrain
Apr 03, 2007 Conrad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, history
This book looks at how the word "freedom" and symbols of freedom have been used and adopted by Americans since before the founding of the country. Far from a work of self-congratulation, the book looks at when American leaders have defined freedom as negative ("freedom from want") and positive ("freedom to..."), where our Presidents have gotten their idea of freedom from, and in what directions debates over the meaning of freedom have proceeded (and sometimes ground to a halt) over the centuries ...more
Aug 31, 2014 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very useful general survey of United States history that interweaves bottom-up social history and top-down political history. The theme of freedom is very capacious and allows Foner to fit a lot in but in a streamlined, readable fashion. An excellent starting point for any new student of U.S. history.
Marshall Smiland
A revisionist history of American freedom through the leftist lenses of race, class, and gender.
Jonathan Hedgpeth
Aug 26, 2008 Jonathan Hedgpeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting series of essays about the transformation of American Freedom in the popular imagination as it translated to political activism throughout American History. I was glad to have read it, and I was glad when it was done. Foner's style can be very tough and terse. I know that sooner or later in life I will have to read his History of Reconstruction but I keep puting it off.
Oct 26, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers, history buffs
This is a great book about how the idea of freedom in America has changed through history. I've used to help me plan my curriculum this year for 11th grade. Foner identifies different types of freedom and discusses how freedom in America has also depended on lack of freedom for others.
Nov 16, 2011 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As great a read as you'd expect from Foner. One particularly interesting portion of the book highlights -- more by explanation of facts than explicitly saying as much -- the absurdity of modern conservatives' self-proclaimed ownership of the term "freedom."
May 06, 2008 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you have any interest in American history, then you should read this book. Was read in a class on the changing meaning of the words freedom and liberty during this nation's history - this book WAS the class
Anthony Schein
Feb 20, 2007 Anthony Schein rated it it was amazing
I like Eric Foner. As I recall, his treatment of the New Deal and Roosevelt's Four Freedoms was excellent. Sure beats the hell out of Howard Zinn in the category of progressive historians.
Kerry Price
Dec 04, 2008 Kerry Price rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really good overview of major cultural shifts in U.S. history - especially helpful if (like me) you don't know too much about late 19th century America or the Progressive Era.
Jul 07, 2008 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
This is Eric Foner in a more digestible form (short chapters, quite punchy). Basically, the concept of "freedom" throughout American history.
Aug 31, 2009 Alissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice look at the changing definitions of freedom throughout American history.
John Beeler
Jul 03, 2007 John Beeler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent survey that incorporates Foner's theories on us/them.
Sidik Fofana
Oct 15, 2013 Sidik Fofana rated it liked it
SIX WORD REVIEW: Too much philosophy, not enough history.
Rickard Godzkilla
Sep 11, 2013 Rickard Godzkilla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
nice to see how the conception of freedom changed
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Eric Foner is DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, where he earned his B.A. and Ph.D. In his teaching and scholarship, Foner focuses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, slavery, and nineteenth-century America. His Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877, won the Bancroft, Parkman, and Los Angeles Times Book prizes and remains the standard history of the p ...more
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