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Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America's Founding Ideals

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  78 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
This book studies American ideas of liberty and freedom as visions of an open society, through the symbols they have inspired from the Revolutionary era through 9/11. Before 1776, a variety of icons appeared throughout the colonies: New England's Liberty Trees, New York's Liberty Poles, Pennsylvania's Liberty Bells, South Carolina's Liberty Crescents, and backcountry rattl ...more
Hardcover, 864 pages
Published November 15th 2004 by Oxford University Press (first published October 18th 2004)
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Sarah Milne
Nov 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars would be more appropriate. I love David Hackett Fischer (my graduate adviser had him on her committee when she got her degree, so I like to claim him as a sort of grandfather in the field, as presumptuous as that is.) I really love what he did here. Using images, he reconstructed the conceptual history of the terms liberty and freedom. This is a book that could easily have been four times its size, weighty though already it is. It is also a beautiful book, in full color and composed of ...more
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of liberty!
Shelves: americanhistory
This is the third book in the four book (projected) that Fischer began with the seminal "Albion's Seed".

Liberty and Freedom is devoted to those two concepts, which Fischer holds are key to understanding the culture of America. Fischer uses quilts, flags, photos, paintings, sculpture and pretty much anything else under the sun(toilet decorated with a bald eagle, anyone?) to illustrate this thesis.

Clearly, Fischer is concerned with the idea of America. What is most novel about this book is the w
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This book describes the little-understood distinction between the words freedom and liberty. An understanding of these concepts is relevant to politics of today.

"In ancient Rome, liberty implied inequality. People were granted different liberties according to their condition. Some had many liberties. Others had few or none. When Rome was a republic, its citizens possessed the liberty of government by assembly, but in different ways according to their rank. Magistrates and senators had liberty t
Bookmarks Magazine

Fischer, author of Washington's Crossing (**** May/June 2004) and Albion's Seed, offers Liberty and Freedom as part of a four-volume history of American culture. Focusing on material culture rather than philosophical texts, he argues that we pass down ideas about liberty and freedom from one generation to the next, altering them as some groups simultaneously struggle against forms of repression. Fischer's stories span well-known anecdotes about Betsy Ross, Frederick Douglass, and Jimi Hendrix to

Derek Johnson
May 05, 2011 rated it liked it
This was a let down after Albion's Seed. Fischer tries to argue that liberty and freedom are folk traditions, but he does not provide enough concrete examples to let us know exactly what that means. Instead, he runs through (often entertainingly) the high points in American history and describes how each corresponds to freedom (belonging to a community of free people) or liberty (being independent from the will of another).
Bob Gustafson
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book starts off excellently, by explaining what liberty and freedom are and what separates them. The book is really about U.S. iconography through the decades and the concepts of freedom and liberty sort of get forgotten about. Nevertheless it earns the four stars for what it does well.
Mar 21, 2008 marked it as to-read
Very thoughtful read on how the American colonies viewed the concepts of freedom, and how the choose to express these views. I like the insight into what the American revolutionaries were thinking about.
Aug 25, 2015 rated it liked it
An interesting approach to an abstract historical subject - the depiction of freedom and liberty through American History.
Feb 23, 2008 rated it liked it
This book discusses the cultural differences in the meaning of liberty and freedom.
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David Hackett Fischer is University Professor and Earl Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University. His major works have tackled everything from large macroeconomic and cultural trends (Albion's Seed, The Great Wave) to narrative histories of significant events (Paul Revere's Ride, Washington's Crossing) to explorations of historiography (Historians' Fallacies, in which he coined the term H ...more
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