cover image Enlightening the World: The Creation of the Statue of Liberty

Enlightening the World: The Creation of the Statue of Liberty

Yasmin Sabina Khan, . . Cornell Univ., $24.95 (231pp) ISBN 978-0-8014-4851-5

Despite countless publications on New York harbor's Statue of Liberty, no previous study has detailed its complex history. Independent scholar Khan ably fills this gap with a lucid account connecting France's widespread grief over Abraham Lincoln's 1865 assassination with that country's own struggles to establish a lasting democracy. Khan shows how Édouard-René Lefebvre de Laboulaye, a legal scholar and celebrant of French-American friendship, led others to design and construct what was officially called Liberty Enlightening the World . Other principals included the distinguished sculptor Auguste Bartholdi; visionary engineer Gustave Eiffel; prominent architect Richard Morris Hunt; and powerful publisher and fund-raiser Joseph Pulitzer. Khan sketches their lives plus that of Emma Lazarus, whose famous sonnet was added to the statue's pedestal in 1903. Khan suggests that the statue's crown of rays may derive from Benjamin Franklin's image of a sun rising over the new republic and that the broken chain under Lady Liberty's foot symbolizes slavery's abolition after the Civil War. Also intriguing were denunciations by women and African-Americans alike of the opening-day ceremonies as exaggerating the nation's commitment to liberty for all An important book for general audiences. B&w photos. (Mar.)