Out Now

Battles for Freedom: The Use and Abuse of American History - Eric Foner, Randall Kennedy

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

                As I am writing this review, CNN is reporting on the recent shooting in Las Vegas as well as the destruction in Puerto Rico.  I live in a country where a president at the very least gives the impression of lacking basic geographic knowledge, human politeness, and empathy.  A large segment of the population seems angry that brown people protest, peacefully protest, during a song but not as mad about the mass shooting of innocent concert attendees.

                It’s hard not to crawl under the bed and read until the next election, isn’t it?

                If you are going to do that, and even more so if you are not going to do so, you should read this collection of Foner’s essays that span is career.

                Foner essays cover much, but at the heart of the work is the question of freedom, the right and need to debate as well as to a degree the need to challenge the status quo.   He discusses the justification behind college admissions systems as well as the need to challenge the standard view on history.  For instance, he discusses a show in the Smithsonian American Museum of Art that challenge the artistic view of the West, pointing out Remington’s view of minorities.  There is also a good essay about the Sacco and Vanzetti case.

                But perhaps the most important essays in this collection are those about the Civil War, the South, and Lincoln.  Not only does Foner discuss the use of revisionist history designed to make slavery a secondary issue (as well as the issue of Texas textbooks).  His direct analysis of those statues is also very important, pointing out the true reason for the erection of the statues.

                This is a very timely and important collection.

                Maybe HBO should give him a show.