SUMMARY: From the Revolution to the War on Terror, Americans have defined our society with the words liberty and freedom. We have held up these ideals as core values in the midst of cultural uncertainty and political strife. But where did these words come from, and how have their meanings changed as America evolved from scattered English colonies to the dizzyingly diverse, multicolored mosaic of the 21st century? In Liberty and Freedom, David Hackett Fischer traces how “liberty” and “freedom” originally meant two different things—yet like DNA, these intertwined ideas have recombined in every generation to shape American culture in fundamental ways.
Fischer weaves a compelling narrative around the central theme that “what made America free, and keeps it growing more so, was not any single vision of liberty and freedom but the interplay of many visions.” He sets out these visions through the use of more than 400 images and symbols, from the flags of Revolutionary regiments to cigarette cards to Norman Rockwell paintings.
David Hackett Fischer is University Professor at Brandeis University. He is renowned as one of America’s most gifted and creative historians and author of such acclaimed volumes as Albion’s Seed, The Great Wave, Paul Revere’s Ride, and Washington’s Crossing. Fischer is co-editor, with James M. McPherson, of the Pivotal Moments in American History series published by Oxford University Press. Fischer earned his AB at Princeton University and his Ph.D. at John Hopkins University. He and his family divide their time between Wayland in Massachusetts and Mount Desert Island in Maine.