In the second year of President Donald Trump’s administration, renowned historian Jon Meacham published one of his most recent books, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels (2018). With the upcoming election this November, his book offers historical lessons that are especially relevant today. 

Meacham’s book offers a survey of American history, from the 18th century up to the FDR administration, which explores the American experiment through the lenses of moral and political leadership, highlighting some of the times when the country faced significant challenges to its fundamental challenges and political ideals. His analysis resonates deeply with contemporary political and socio-cultural issues brought by America’s contemporary polarization in a time of political uncertainty and fear. 

Meacham underlines the danger of fear and cynicism, and the power of hope and courage in America’s long struggle towards justice, unity, and equality as his prose brings to life some of the most important figures in American history, such as Lincoln and Roosevelt, and connects past struggles to the present, emphasizing his conviction that the struggle for America’s soul is ongoing. 

In doing so, Meacham does not shy from underscoring, in readable and lucid detail, some of the darkest times in America’s past – from the Civil War and segregation to the Great Depression and fiscal justice – but sheds an inspirational light on how trying times were overcome and problems addressed (if yet not solved), offering a hopeful narrative of progress and possibility while urging readers to join the struggle for peace and justice. 

Meacham’s work is a powerful and timely exploration of the American experience, a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the challenges facing America today and the enduring values that continue to shape the arc of its history.