A Fresh Look at Freedom: Russell Shorto

We discuss the American Revolution and the meaning of freedom with acclaimed historian and journalist, Russell Shorto, author of the 2018 book, "Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom."Russell Shorto is also the writer of a fine new podcast series, "American History Tellers."


As the nation struggles with a political crisis and national discord, this episode-- released during the week of the July 4th vacation-- has special resonance. We look at fundamental ideas of democracy and founding principles developed before and during the American War of Independence.


As he did with "The Island at the Center of the World," which looked at the Dutch impact on New York, Russell's latest book examines American values, drawing deeply on personal diaries, letters and autobiographies to flesh out six important lives. They include an African-American man who freed himself and his family from slavery, a Seneca tribal warrior who became a wise and respected political leader, and George Washington himself. 


When he began working on "Revolution Song" six years ago, "I thought I was doing history," Russell tells us. "I thought these things were long ago settled. I didn't think I would be living in a time when freedom of the press, freedom of religion and freedom of speech would be even debatable or under attack."


"The intertwined stories of "Revolution Song" give a sense of how far-reaching a phenomenon the War of Independence was," wrote a book reviewer in the New York Times