What they are saying about LIBERTY’S TORCH

An O Magazine 15 Titles to Pick Up Now Selection, Summer 2014

“Journalist Elizabeth Mitchell recounts the captivating story behind the familiar monument that readers may have assumed they knew everything about.”—New York Times

IMG_20140615_181919129“Liberty’s Torch reveals a statue with a storied past . . . Mitchell uses Liberty to reveal a pantheon of historic figures, including novelist Victor Hugo, engineer Gustave Eiffel and newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer. The drama—or “great adventure,” to borrow from the subtitle—runs from the Pyramids of Egypt to the backrooms of Congress. . . . By explaining Liberty’s tortured history and resurrecting Bartholdi’s indomitable spirit, Mitchell has done a great service. This is narrative history, well told. It is history that connects us to our past and—hopefully—to our future.”—Los Angeles Times

“Streamlined and well constructed. . . . Proceeding chronologically, the author divides her story into three parts (“The Idea,” “The Gamble,” “The Triumph”) and opens with just the right amount of initial biographical detail on the designer, bolstering her portrait with further historical background as the narrative warrants. . . . deft strokes and always apt, telling details. . . . Mitchell successfully conveys the enormity of the undertaking and the infuriating amount of bureaucracy and old-fashioned glad-handing required to finish the job. . . . In Bartholdi, Mitchell has found a fascinating character through which to view late-19th-century America, and she does readers a service by sifting fact from fiction in the creation of one our most beloved monuments.”—Boston Globe

“A myth-busting story starring the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. Mitchell’s adjectives for him include crazy, driven, peevish and obnoxious. He rarely missed an opportunity to advance his own career, but Mitchell says he had “an incredible ability to soldier on” through a 15-year struggle. . . . Were it for not for Bartholdi, the statue probably would not have been built. In today’s world, Mitchell can’t imagine any single person driving such a massive undertaking.”—USA Today

“Turns out that what you thought you knew about Lady Liberty is dead wrong. Learn the truth in this fascinating account of how a French sculptor armed with only an idea and a serious inability to take no for an answer built one of the most iconic monuments in history.”—O, the Oprah Magazine

“Every American schoolchild learns the story: In a grand gesture representing their shared reverence for freedom, France presented to a grateful United States the imposing 305-foot Statue of Liberty. . . . Except, like all history, the story is a little more complicated than that. Elizabeth Mitchell takes us inside the statue’s history . . . Despite the statue’s iconic status in American culture, Bartholdi’s name probably does not spring into your mind as soon as you see its image. But Mitchell’s book does a fine job of retrieving him from the mists of history—and of recounting how long and hard he labored, not just artistically but financially and politically, to make the statue a reality. . . . Fascinating.”—Tampa Bay Times

“Mitchell casts doubt on several myths about the genesis of and inspiration for Lady Liberty . . . Quite certain that the sculptor did not use his mother as the model for the statue’s face, Mitchell speculates that he may have had his deceased brother Charles in mind. And she suggests that there may be something to rumors, circulated at the time, that the body of Lady Liberty resembled Bartholdi’s paramour, later his wife.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“The Statue of Liberty, which has stood at the entrance to New York’s harbor for more than a century and a quarter, is chiefly the work of a French sculptor named Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi . . . Mitchell tells the story of its construction . . . a good story.”—Washington Post

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