Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Liberty's Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty” as Want to Read:
Liberty's Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Liberty's Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  385 ratings  ·  77 reviews
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognizable monuments in the world, a powerful symbol of freedom and the American dream. For decades, the myth has persisted that the statue was a grand gift from France, but now Liberty's Torch reveals how she was in fact the pet project of one quixotic and visionary French sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. Bartholdi not only ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 2nd 2014 by Atlantic Monthly Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Liberty's Torch, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Ruth Cuadra About 280 and 25 pages of historical footnotes.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  385 ratings  ·  77 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Rebecca McNutt
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While perhaps a bit too embellished at times with drama, Liberty's Torch is still such a powerful and detailed book that it was completely worth it. Who hasn't grown up with the iconic Statue of Liberty? When I was a kid still living in small-town Oromocto, my dad was able to pick up PBS from New York for my brother and sister and I, and this big statue was present in every show we watched from Sesame Street to Curious George. When I'd think of America, a place which has poured much of its cultu ...more
Apr 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
An interesting book about how the Statue of Liberty came to America. It's an icon now but it's surprising how many people were indifferent or hostile to the project. The opening chapters focused on Bartholdi's history, including his trip to Egypt and his involvement in the disastrous Prussian conflict. He conceived the project and then spent years in fundraising and trying to get the support of influential people. Joseph Pulitzer spearheaded New York fundraising efforts, Gustave Eiffel created t ...more
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Somehow I wanted this book to reinforce my sentimental notions of Lady Liberty. It did in fact quite the opposite. The book was very well researched but I felt the plot line often got lost in the telling of the back story to the back story of the back story.

“What other work of art required an army of men clocking in every morning and working a full day, for months, years, to get the piece built? Only bridges or buildings demanded this kind of commitment.”—page 148

For almost as long as I can remember, the Statue of Liberty, in New York harbor, has been my favorite icon in all the world. So, when BookBub advertised the title: Liberty’s Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty, by Elizabeth Mitchell, for $1.99, I was quick to
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very interesting account on one man's dream to build the Statue of Liberty. Lots of surprising characters you have heard of helped in really interesting ways. It was tough going from the start. And in the end the man who had the dream was all but forgotten except for this book. It is really an ode to him and the 15 or so years he spent trying to make HER happen. But no matter what his agenda was he knew from the beginning what the giant sculpture would represent. I just wish I was able to stroll ...more
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Solid 4.5 star book. Rounded up because all the way up until the epilogue, I was completely loving on this book.

I enjoy learning things I didn't know before from the non-fiction I read. Lucky for me, I'm a product of the public education system in America, so there's a lot I don't know. Even, it seems , about the Statue of Liberty which is arguably THE symbol of America and the freedom within our borders. So shame on me for not even knowing the name of the creator of Lady Liberty until I read th
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Mitchell's LIBERTY'S TORCH tells the story of Frederic Bartholdi, the charismatic, visionary French sculptor, who created one of the world's most iconic works of art, the Statue of Liberty. I live in Brooklyn, and I see the statue nearly everyday from across the water, but after reading this book, I will never look at it in the same way. All of the things I thought I knew about the creation of the statue were wrong, and the real story was much more fascinating. Mitchell has a nearly ma ...more
K Walker
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Having been taught that the Statue of Liberty was a "gift" from France, I was surprised by its real history. In fact, it is really surprising that the statue was ever delivered, much less erected in this country. As is typical of human endeavors, there were many obstacles and egos involved in this project. This book provides a rich history of France from the time of the French Revolution and into the late 19th century, as well as the general attitudes about the statue itself within the United St ...more
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: americana
Elizabeth Mitchell has crafted a quiet colossus of a story: readable, human, and witty, yet also filled with detail and told with precision. Mitchell manages to convey the turmoil of France's politics and civic life in the 19th century without ever losing sight of the complex man who created a complex symbol for a complex nation.
Robin Clayton
Jul 30, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked it buy there was a little too much detail. It was interesting to read before my first trip to NYC and tour of the statue.
Joshua Rivoli
Nov 20, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is very informative and very interesting in parts, but its one flaw is that it’s a little too informative. For every page of enjoyable, well-written information, there are twenty pages of long, tedious accounts of things that only serious researchers might care about. There were times during my reading experience that I was fascinated by all the work and steps that went into the end result of the Statue of Liberty. At other points, long stretches of boring minutia made me want to quit ...more
Marion Vermazen
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a very interesting book that more than anything makes you realize that if you are committed to a goal and keep working on it you will eventually get there. I was surprised how little enthusiasm there was for the project for a very long time. The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough very much complements Liberty's Torch given that Ferdinand de Lesseps and Bartholdi were contemporaries.
Jade Pham Gift
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I heard of this book on NPR (I think) and checked it out from the library. It was well written and provided in details the struggles that Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi endured to bring the Statue of Liberty to America. If you appreciate the Statue of Liberty, and who wouldn't, then this book is a must read.

I don't remember the exact date that I read this book, so the dates are "guesstimation" of my memory.
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I really liked this book, the stories within the story. If you know what the average American knows about this icon, it's just a speck on the top of the iceberg. Not only is the statue a feat of sculpture in a material not usually used, but its conception, its realization, its financing, its assembly, even its location, all came to fruition because Bertoldi never gave up on his dream. Good read.
Susan Tan
Oct 06, 2018 rated it liked it
A comprehensive yet boring history book that is a biography of the sculpture Bartholdi. I don't like this man personally because he is arrogant and so sure of himself so the book is hard to read quickly and was a chore. I really like the details of the engineering construction. listen to history chicks podcast episode on lady Liberty.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Fascinating story with a lot I did not already know. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that I wish it was longer and dove deeper into the "secondary" players, such as Eiffel and Hunt. They were mentioned, but not really explored. I would have loved that too. One of the best parts is finally understanding just how critical Emma Lazarus is to the meaning of the Statue of Liberty.
Jane Thompson
Status of Liberty Story

This book was written about the quest of the sculptor to build the largest sculpture . The book seemed boring to me but I read it because I was interested in the story.

Kirby Davis
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
An insightful look at the artist, the project, and the times. Great read.
Sep 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
I couldn't get into it.
Jan 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This non-fiction book gives the history of how the Statue of Liberty came to America through the efforts of the French sculptor, Auguste Bartholdi. The book also goes through the pertinent history of America and France at the time. The most surprising thing to me was that the people of New York City and even the rest of America were not too excited to bring Lady Liberty to America's shore. The country struggled to fund the endeavor. It would have failed many times had it not been for the persist ...more
Wendy Nelson
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Liberty’s Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty
Mitchell, E. (2014). Liberty’s torch. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.
If any book about a 130-year-old statue can be called a revelation, it is this one, released in 2014 to coincide with Independence Day. Though the story of the Statue of Liberty has been told and retold, Elizabeth Mitchell digs deep into the biography of its creator, Frederick-Auguste Bartholdi, to uncover the true origins. Readers who have no interest in nine
Don LaFountaine
I enjoyed reading this book about the creation and eventual placement of the Statue of Liberty.

The books starts with the background of Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, his family, and his adventures as a youth. He created a statue that won a prize in an exhibition in Paris, and shortly thereafter went to Egypt. After viewing the pyramids and the Sphinx, he decided that he needed to create a large statue. The question was where it would go and what it would represent. Initially, he tried to have it ma
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting book about Lady Liberty. Throughout school, we were always taught that the Statue was a grateful gift from the French to celebrate our 100th birthday (never made it in time) and our friendship from our War for Independence. What our teachers didn't tell us was what the creator of the Statue went through to get into position to build it, and then did, in fact build it, almost at personal expense. After conniving the French public, and government, to support him, he ran into another pr ...more
Kimberly Hicks
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This fascinating look at how the Statue of Liberty came to rest on Bledsoe's Island in New York City's harbor is a story I thought I knew fairly well. I was wrong. I had no idea about the controversy, the lack of interest on the US side, the sculptor's reasons for designing her, and a host of other related items.

This story centers around Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor who had a dream of building a colossus. Author Mitchell describes Bartholdi from his youth and the environment of the ti
RHPL Adult Reference
In this book, Elizabeth Mitchell tells the story of the creation of our country’s most notable icon, the Statue of Liberty. (Which is the tallest statue in the U.S.) And in the process, also tells the story of the statue’s creator, the sculptor, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, “a character so brazen and outrageous and charming that his life reads like a novel” –or so says the author Elizabeth Gilbert, on the back cover.

According to a BookPage review: “Liberty’s Torch challenges many of the myths sur
Julie  Capell
This was a serviceable history of the Statue of Liberty, and made good reading in the days just prior to my recent trip to see the venerable lady. Primarily, it gave me a much better appreciation for the politics behind the statue’s creation. Most Americans have an idea that the statue was “given” to the United States by France---whether the donor was the French government or the “people” was never very clear to me. So the revelation of the book for me was the immense amount of private fundraisi ...more
Kenn Staub
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it
The story of the Statue of Liberty from conception to finished product standing in New York Harbor, with biographic sketches of all the principals involved. The story of the statue is rife with political and personal intrigue. Far from being welcomed whole heartedly by the American populace, the statue was a struggle to get funded and then built. Ironically, it was the wealthiest (and perhaps those who stood to benefit most) who were most reluctant to give. Obviously, much of the story was devot ...more
Jul 06, 2014 rated it liked it
As a preface, I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I found the book generally interesting and a compelling read, but I got a little frustrated with the pacing and the relative allotment of focus in the book. The first 2/3 of the book, covering the creator's life, background, and desire to create something akin to the statute was well-written and organized. The last few parts of the book simultaneously got bogged down in certain aspects (e.g. funding of the statute), yet breezed through some ...more
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Every July, I like to read a book on American History. Around that time, I received Liberty's Torch as a Goodreads Giveaway. I thought I knew the history of the Statue of Liberty, but I had no idea.

This book made the design and construction of the statue into a lifelong adventure for the creator Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. In the process, he received help from Ulysses S. Grant, Joseph Pulitzer, Victor Hugo, Gustave Eiffel, and Thomas Edison. The process of acquiring the money and making this pro
This book will erase the illusion of why this was built, but it should not take away what it stands for. A French artist wanted to "give" the US this statue in exchange for the US paying for the pedal stool for it to stand. Eiffel made the engineering to support the structure and Bartholdi created the statue. The most fascinating parts was the shipping. Hard to picture it coming in several pieces on one ship. Amazing. As you can imagine, fundraising was difficult on both sides and they came up w ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Through the Perilous Fight: Six Weeks That Saved the Nation
  • The Dawn's Early Light
  • More Powerful Than Dynamite: Radicals, Plutocrats, Progressives, and New York's Year of Anarchy
  • The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America’s First Subway
  • A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever
  • I Only Read It for the Cartoons: The New Yorker's Most Brilliantly Twisted Artists
  • A Little Revenge: Benjamin Franklin and His Son
  • Independence: The Struggle to Set America Free
  • Lincoln's Gamble: How the Emancipation Proclamation Changed the Course of the Civil War
  • The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It
  • PT 109: JFK's Night of Destiny
  • Anything for a Vote: Dirty Tricks, Cheap Shots, and October Surprises in U.S. Presidential Campaigns
  • Notorious Victoria: The Life of Victoria Woodhull, Uncensored
  • The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America's Most Progressive Era
  • Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values
  • Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century
  • George Washington: Gentleman Warrior
  • Famous Players (A Treasury of XXth Century Murder)
See similar books…
Elizabeth Mitchell is the author of three nonfiction books: Three Strides Before the Wire: The Dark and Beautiful World of Horse Racing (Hyperion, 2002), W.: Revenge of the Bush Dynasty (Hyperion, 2000), and Liberty’s Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty (Grove/Atlantic Monthly Press 2014). The Washington Post selected Three Strides as one of the best nonfiction books of that ...more
“America is an adorable woman chewing tobacco.” 0 likes
More quotes…