“If you think you know all there is to know about the Statue of Liberty, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”—The New York Times
When the crated monument first arrived in New York Harbor, few could have foreseen the central place the Statue of Liberty would come to occupy in the American imagination. In this book, cultural historian and scholar of French history Edward Berenson tells the little-known stories of the statue’s improbable beginnings, transatlantic connections, and the changing meanings it has held for each successive generation.
He tells of the French intellectuals who decided for their own domestic political reasons to pay tribute to American liberty; the initial, less-than-enthusiastic American response; and the countless difficulties before the statue was at last unveiled to the public in 1886. The trials of its inception and construction, however, are only half of the story. Berenson also shows how the statue’s symbolically indistinct, neoclassical form has allowed Americans to interpret its meaning in diverse ways—as representing the emancipation of the slaves, Tocqueville’s idea of orderly liberty, opportunity for “huddled masses,” and, in the years since 9/11, the freedom and resilience of New York City and the United States in the face of terror.
Includes photos and illustrations
“Endlessly fascinating.”—Louisville Courier-Journal