By Jon Meacham
In The Soul of America, Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian Jon Meacham offers well-needed historical perspective to assuage our concerns about the toxic partisan climate and perceived moral decline of our country today. He helps us understand the present moment in American life and politics by looking back at critical times in our history when hope overcame division and fear.
Meacham reminds 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 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., early suffragettes Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt, civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, Meacham brings vividly to life turning points in American history. He writes about the Civil War; Reconstruction; the backlash against immigrants in the First World War and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s; the nation’s isolationist turn in the years before World War II; anti-Communist investigations led by Senator Joseph McCarthy; and Lyndon Johnson’s unexpected role in expanding civil rights.
According to Meacham, during alarming and ultimately pivotal moments in American history we have been sustained by a belief in progress even in the gloomiest of times. He inspires and reassures, “The good news is that we have come through such darkness before” – as, time and again, Lincoln’s better angels have found a way to prevail.