Harvard University Press Catalog - Autumn & Winter 2018 - 19
The Unlikely Origins of the Statue of Liberty
Francesca Lidia Viano
The story of the improbable campaign that created America's most
The Statue of Liberty is an icon of freedom, a monument to America's multiethnic democracy, and a memorial to Franco-American friendship. That much we know. But the lofty
ideals we associate with the statue today can obscure its turbulent origins and layers of
meaning. Francesca Lidia Viano reveals that history in the fullest account yet of the people
and ideas that brought the lady of the harbor to life.
Our protagonists are the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and his collaborator,
the politician and intellectual Édouard de Laboulaye. Viano draws on an unprecedented
range of sources to follow the pair as they chase their artistic and political ambitions across
a global stage dominated by imperial rivalry and ideological ferment. The tale stretches
from the cobblestones of northeastern France, through the hallways of international exhibitions in London and Paris, to the copper mines of Norway and Chile, the battlegrounds
of the Franco-Prussian War, the deserts of Egypt, and the streets of New York. It features
profound technical challenges, hot air balloon rides, secret "magnetic" séances, and grand
visions of a Franco-American partnership in the coming world order. The irrepressible collaborators bring to their project the high ideals of liberalism and republicanism, but also
crude calculations of national advantage and eccentric notions adopted from orientalism,
freemasonry, and Saint-Simonianism.
As entertaining as it is illuminating, Sentinel gives new flesh and spirit to a landmark we all
recognize but only dimly understand.
Francesca Lidia Viano is a Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs,
Harvard University. She has written extensively on the history of economic and political
exchanges in the Atlantic World.
October 576 pp.
History 5 ½ x 9
cloth $35.00 * £27.95 9780674975606
25 color illus., 22 halftones
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