Cover: Sentinel: The Unlikely Origins of the Statue of Liberty, from Harvard University PressCover: Sentinel in HARDCOVER


The Unlikely Origins of the Statue of Liberty

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Product Details


$35.00 • £28.95 • €31.50

ISBN 9780674975606

Publication Date: 10/22/2018


592 pages

5-1/2 x 9 inches

25 color photos, 22 photos


Fascinating…and relentlessly inquisitive… The thrust of her argument rings true: Lady Liberty is fiercer and far more complex than we ever knew.—Michael O’Donnell, The Wall Street Journal

Extravagant and gripping… Sentinel offers a sweeping dual narrative and reads like a Victorian novel. Viano writes with the flair of a novelist and a historian’s humility. The research is prodigious, the set piece alive with detail.—Dominic Green, Literary Review

Viano’s revisionist account of the statue’s ‘unlikely origins’ is a welcome corrective to settled opinion… This is superb scholarship, interpreted with an elegant touch and beautifully produced.—Stephen Bayley, Spectator

An attempt to pick apart the complex and sometimes strange history of this colossal gift to America from the government and people of France.The Economist

Does as much as any book can…to restore Bartholdi’s grim goddess some of her original mystery, and in the process it tells the story of Liberty’s birth with a probing complexity that’s a far better tribute to both the country of her origin and the country that welcomed her, the most prominent immigrant in the world.—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Review

Sentinel is a cornucopia of a book, not just an in-depth history of the origins and evolution of an iconic monument, but a narrative full of insights. Viano writes with breathtaking scope and remarkable knowledge. No other work on the Statue of Liberty is as rich or rewarding.—John Brewer, California Institute of Technology

Lively, detailed, and full of surprises, a fascinating account of the Statue of Liberty’s conception and construction.—James T. Kloppenberg, Harvard University

In her astonishing narrative, Viano overturns virtually every assumption Americans have about their famous statue standing in New York’s harbor. Her global story traces how a ‘devilish colossus,’ inspired by Eastern esoteric knowledge and meant to stand in Egypt as a testament of French colonial domination, became an ambiguous symbol of American liberty. Viano’s indefatigable research into long-forgotten documents has yielded a truly wonderful history.—R. Laurence Moore, Cornell University

The Statue of Liberty is so American, and so bound up with an idea of America’s largesse and openness to the rest of the world, that we can easily forget that it was designed by an Alsatian sculptor and gifted to the United States by France. Francesca Viano brilliantly reorients the statue’s meaning by recovering its truly international origins. At once a detective story about its enigmatic creators, an appreciation of the artistic and philosophical influences that informed its design, and a rumination on liberty—colossal but fragile—in an age of empire, Sentinel offers a dazzling perspective on the most famous statue in the world.—Nicholas Guyatt, University of Cambridge

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