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Saturday, October 20, 2018

THE SOUL of AMERICA: THE BATTLE for OUR BETTER ANGELS (audiobook) by Jon Meacham

Published in 2018 by Random House Audio.
Read by Fred Sanders and the author, Jon Meacham.

Duration: 10 hours, 55 minutes.

LBJ and MLK discussing Civil Rights strategy - 
Jon Meacham takes a look at Presidential leadership from the Civil War onward, particularly the power of the President to lead the country to "do the right thing" in a time of crisis. He has a particular focus with how the President deals with people who want to abuse the rights of others. Well, to be completely honest, Meacham does not have a complete clear thesis in this book and I am not 100% sure what his overall goal was. What it turned out to be was an interesting, rambling work that looked at several crisis points in American history and how the politicians, mostly presidents, responded.

He looked at Lincoln (the source of the title), Grant during Reconstruction and the rise of the KKK, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Eisenhower, JFK and LBJ. There is a little discussion of George W. Bush and there is an implied criticism of Donald Trump at times, especially when he discusses demagogues like Huey Long and Joseph McCarthy. 

Meacham is much kinder towards Woodrow Wilson than most historians, when one considers how much he abused his authority during World War I (he acknowledges it and moves on). His look at LBJ was similarly friendly, but was much more interesting and inspiring because it focused on his work to get the Civil Rights legislation passed (and virtually ignored the Vietnam War).

The audiobook was read by Fred Sanders. He did a fine job, but I actually enjoyed the reading of the opening and closing thoughts by the author more.

So, to sum up, this was an enjoyable, if muddled book. Worthy of your time.

I rate this audiobook 4 stars out of 5. It can be found on Amazon.com here: THE SOUL of AMERICA: THE BATTLE for OUR BETTER ANGELS.

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