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The American Gospel--literally, the good news about America--is that religion shapes our public life without controlling it. In this vivid book, New York Times bestselling author Jon Meacham tells the human story of how the Founding Fathers viewed faith, and how they ultimately created a nation in which belief in God is a matter of choice. At a time when our country seems divided by extremism, American Gospel draws on the past to offer a new perspective. Meacham re-creates the fascinating history of a nation grappling with religion and politics-from John Winthrop's "city on a hill" sermon to Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence; from the Revolution to the Civil War; from a proposed nineteenth-century Christian Amendment to the Constitution to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s call for civil rights; from George Washington to Ronald Reagan. Debates about religion and politics are often more divisive than illuminating. Secularists point to a "wall of separation between church and state," while many conservatives act as though the Founding Fathers were apostles in knee britches. As Meacham shows in this brisk narrative, neither extreme has it right. At the heart of the American experiment lies the God of what Benjamin Franklin called "public religion," a God who invests all human beings with inalienable rights while protecting private religion from government interference. It is a great American balancing act, and it has served us well. Meacham has written and spoken extensively about religion and politics, and he brings historical authority and a sense of hope to the issue. American Gospel makes it compellingly clear that the nation's best chance of summoning what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature" lies in recovering the spirit and sense of the Founding. In looking back, we may find the light to lead us forward. "In his American Gospel, Jon Meacham provides a refreshingly clear, balanced, and wise historical portrait of religion and American politics at exactly the moment when such fairness and understanding are much needed. Anyone who doubts the relevance of history to our own time has only to read this exceptional book."-David McCullough, author of 1776. "Jon Meacham has given us an insightful and eloquent account of the spiritual foundation of the early days of the American republic. It is especially instructive reading at a time when the nation is at once engaged in and deeply divided on the question of religion and its place in public life."-Tom Brokaw, author of The Greatest Generation. "An absorbing narrative full of vivid characters and fresh thinking, American Gospel tells how the Founding Fathers--and their successors--struggled with their own religious and political convictions to work out the basic structure for freedom of religion. For me this book was nonstop reading."-Elaine Pagels, professor of religion, Princeton University, author of Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas. "Jon Meacham is one of our country's most brilliant thinkers about religion's impact on American society. In this scintillating and provocative book, Meacham reveals the often-hidden influence of religious belief on the Founding Fathers and on later generations of American citizens and leaders up to our own. Today, as we argue more strenuously than ever about the proper place of religion in our politics and the rest of American life, Meacham's important book should serve as the touchstone of the debate." -Michael Beschloss, author of The Conquerors.
Andrew Jackson, his intimate circle of friends, and his tumultuous times are at the heart of this remarkable book about the man who rose from nothing to create the modern presidency. Beloved and hated, venerated and reviled, Andrew Jackson was an orphan who fought his way to the pinnacle of power, bending the nation to his will in the cause of democracy. Jackson's election in 1828 ushered in a new and lasting era in which the people, not distant elites, were the guiding force in American politics. Democracy made its stand in the Jackson years, and he gave voice to the hopes and the fears of a restless, changing nation facing challenging times at home and threats abroad. To tell the saga of Jackson's presidency, acclaimed author Jon Meacham goes inside the Jackson White House. Drawing on newly discovered family letters and papers, he details the human drama-the family, the women, and the inner circle of advisers-that shaped Jackson's private world through years of storm and victory.One of our most significant yet dimly recalled presidents, Jackson was a battle-hardened warrior, the founder of the Democratic Party, and the architect of the presidency as we know it. His story is one of violence, sex, courage, and tragedy. With his powerful persona, his evident bravery, and his mystical connection to the people, Jackson moved the White House from the periphery of government to the center of national action, articulating a vision of change that challenged entrenched interests to heed the popular will-or face his formidable wrath. The greatest of the presidents who have followed Jackson in the White House-from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt to FDR to Truman-have found inspiration in his example, and virtue in his vision.Jackson was the most contradictory of men. The architect of the removal of Indians from their native lands, he was warmly sentimental and risked everything to give more power to ordinary citizens. He was, in short, a lot like his country: alternately kind and vicious, brilliant and blind; and a man who fought a lifelong war to keep the republic safe-no matter what it took. Jon Meacham in American Lion has delivered the definitive human portrait of a pivotal president who forever changed the American presidency-and America itself.From the Hardcover edition.
Osama bin Laden was the most wanted man in American history--an enemy who brought the United States what President George W. Bush called "a day of fire," and ushered in a new era of terrorism. It took a decade of blood and sacrifice, of determination and frustration, but finally, in a nighttime raid at the end of a dirt road in Pakistan, the hunt for Bin Laden ended with a gunshot. It was a dramatic climax to a long and painful chapter. But now what? The terrorist threat that has defined American policy since the attacks of 9/11 did not die with Bin Laden in his walled compound near Islamabad. Radicals still wish us harm, and we must fight on. In this provocative collection of essays edited and introduced by Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham, a group of penetrating analysts and leaders look ahead to the world after Bin Laden--to the future of Al Qaeda, of Afghanistan, of Pakistan. We explore the political, military, and cultural implications of the post-Bin Laden war on terror. From Richard N. Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations to former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, from historian and journalist Evan Thomas to former U.S. Army officer Andrew Exum, Beyond Bin Laden gives readers intelligent, deeply informed, and urgent glimpses of what comes next. Contributors include: * Jon Meacham, executive editor, Random House * James A. Baker III, former Secretary of State * Karen Hughes, former counselor to President George W. Bush and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy * Richard N. Haass, president, Council on Foreign Relations * Bing West, author, The Wrong War, and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs * Andrew Exum, fellow, Center for a New American Security * Daniel Markey, senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations * Evan Thomas, award-winning historian and former editor-at-large, Newsweek.
In this affectionate, intimate portrait, Jon Meacham refreshes our memories and offers new insights into a most remarkable personal friendship and political partnership
Smithsonian Civil War is a lavishly illustrated coffee-table book featuring 150 entries in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. From among tens of thousands of Civil War objects in the Smithsonian's collections, curators handpicked 550 items and wrote a unique narrative that begins before the war through the Reconstruction period. The perfect gift book for fathers and history lovers, Smithsonian Civil War combines one-of-a-kind, famous, and previously unseen relics from the war in a truly unique narrative.Smithsonian Civil War takes the reader inside the great collection of Americana housed at twelve national museums and archives and brings historical gems to light. From the National Portrait Gallery come rare early photographs of Stonewall Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant; from the National Museum of American History, secret messages that remained hidden inside Lincoln's gold watch for nearly 150 years; from the National Air and Space Museum, futuristic Civil War-era aircraft designs. Thousands of items were evaluated before those of greatest value and significance were selected for inclusion here. Artfully arranged in 150 entries, they offer a unique, panoramic view of the Civil War.
In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power gives us Jefferson the politician and president, a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era. Philosophers think; politicians maneuver. Jefferson's genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously. Such is the art of power. Thomas Jefferson hated confrontation, and yet his understanding of power and of human nature enabled him to move men and to marshal ideas, to learn from his mistakes, and to prevail. Passionate about many things--women, his family, books, science, architecture, gardens, friends, Monticello, and Paris--Jefferson loved America most, and he strove over and over again, despite fierce opposition, to realize his vision: the creation, survival, and success of popular government in America. Jon Meacham lets us see Jefferson's world as Jefferson himself saw it, and to appreciate how Jefferson found the means to endure and win in the face of rife partisan division, economic uncertainty, and external threat. Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American history. The father of the ideal of individual liberty, of the Louisiana Purchase, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and of the settling of the West, Jefferson recognized that the genius of humanity--and the genius of the new nation--lay in the possibility of progress, of discovering the undiscovered and seeking the unknown. From the writing of the Declaration of Independence to elegant dinners in Paris and in the President's House; from political maneuverings in the boardinghouses and legislative halls of Philadelphia and New York to the infant capital on the Potomac; from his complicated life at Monticello, his breathtaking house and plantation in Virginia, to the creation of the University of Virginia, Jefferson was central to the age. Here too is the personal Jefferson, a man of appetite, sensuality, and passion. The Jefferson story resonates today not least because he led his nation through ferocious partisanship and cultural warfare amid economic change and external threats, and also because he embodies an eternal drama, the struggle of the leadership of a nation to achieve greatness in a difficult and confounding world.Advance praise for Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power "Jon Meacham resolves the bundle of contradictions that was Thomas Jefferson by probing his love of progress and thirst for power. This is a thrilling and affecting portrait of our first philosopher-politician."--Stacy Schiff "This terrific book allows us to see the political genius of Thomas Jefferson better than we have ever seen it before. In these endlessly fascinating pages, Jefferson emerges with such vitality that it seems as if he might still be alive today."--Doris Kearns Goodwin
Voices in Our Blood is a literary anthology of the most important and artful interpretations of the civil rights movement, past and present. It showcases what forty of the nation's best writers -- including Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Alice Walker, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, and Richard Wright -- had to say about the central domestic drama of the American Century. Editor Jon Meacham has chosen pieces by journalists, novelists, historians, and artists, bringing together a wide range of black and white perspectives and experiences. The result is an unprecedented and powerful portrait of the movement's spirit and struggle, told through voices that resonate with passion and strength. Maya Angelou takes us on a poignant journey back to her childhood in the Arkansas of the 1930s. On the front page of The New York Times, James Reston marks the movement's apex as he describes what it was like to watch Martin Luther King, Jr., deliver his heralded "I Have a Dream" speech in real time. Alice Walker takes up the movement's progress a decade later in her article"Choosing to Stay at Home: Ten Years After the March on Washington. "And John Lewis chronicles the unimaginable courage of the ordinary African Americans who challenged the prevailing order, paid for it in blood and tears, and justly triumphed. Voices in Our Blood is a compelling look at the movement as it actually happened, from the days leading up to World War II to the anxieties and ambiguities of this new century. The story of race in America is a never-ending one, and Voices in Our Blood tells us how we got this far--and how far we still have to go to reach the Promised Land.
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