The Secret Life of Lady Liberty; Goddess in the New World by Robert Hieronimus, Ph.D. and Laura E. Cortner is a book's book. By this I mean that it contains mystery, history, anthropology, religion, architecture, sociology, women's issues... Truly I could go on and on. The research and work that the author's put into this book is truly awesome. Not only is it jam packed with information, not only do they include a wonderful first chapter which really does help the reader understand the purpose of Lady Liberty, there also are there appendices, notes, a bibliography and even an index. Furthermore, it was written so the average person can understand it. You don't need to be an historian, a sociologist nor anything of the like to be able to read this book, and understand the contents.
The Secret Life of Lady Liberty includes 14 chapters and while the subject matter of each is unique and could stand alone, together they make a masterpiece of information, theories, ideas and viewpoints. As stated above the first chapter is a great introduction and a necessary component of this book. I feel that the reader is best off beginning here. We then move along into chapter two which is titled Where Are Your Women. This is really the jumping off point to the meat of the book. Delving deeper we have chapters about how large statues such as the Statue of Liberty can evoke emotional responses in people, multicultural information including discussions of First Peoples and African Americans as well as dialogue on the model for Lady Liberty herself. Other chapter titles include Goddesses Were Everywhere, Armed Liberty and A Delightful Inconsistency.
When I first got this book I wasn't sure what to expect, especially with the tagline "Goddess in the New World." I wasn't sure if it was going to be a history book, a religious book or something else altogether. In the end I got all of that and so much more. And perhaps the thing I love most about Lady Liberty is that while it's centered specifically on the Statue of Liberty, what's written inside can really be applied to any large statue, from any culture, in any place in the world. While so many of the topics are indeed unique to the United States the way Hieronimus and Cortner wrote this book is wonderful in it's universality. Anyone, from any culture can read Lady Liberty and take something from it.
As an example, in chapter four Goddesses Everywhere, the authors discuss not only Lady Liberty in her statue form but also how she can be found on coins. Going further they include how goddesses can be seen in paintings of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington and how goddesses can be found on designs for magazines. Not only that but they found other places where Lady Liberty's image can be found such as on advertisements, engravings, folk art and even company logos. This chapter however is not at all a list; Hieronimus and Cortner discuss historical and cultural ramifications as well as sociological consequences and what it all means in terms of the impact the Statue of Liberty has on past peoples as well as current and future populations.
I am absolutely enraptured by this book, although I do have to mention that it is a lot of information to take in, and at times can be a dry read. That being said I absolutely recommend this book to almost everybody. With the vast array of subjects covered it can hit at least one button for almost anybody.
~Review by: Jessica Elizabeth
Authors: Robert Hieronimus, Ph.D. and Laura E. Cortner
2016; Destiny Books