Much of what you learned in grade school about our most beloved American icon is wrong. For starters, the Statue of Liberty was originally meant for Egypt, conceived to be a slave greeting travelers on the Suez Canal. And when instead she landed on American shores, she wasn't an outright gift from France, but the remarkable scheme of a grandiose Frenchman who tried to hustle everyone from Ulysses S. Grant to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in an attempt to get his colossus built--somewhere. In this surprising and entertaining biography of America's most famous metal Amazon, Elizabeth Mitchell, author of the Byliner Original bestseller "The Fearless Mrs. Goodwin", provides a portrait of not just the Statue of Liberty but her deluded creator. Powered by fierce ambition and ego, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi spent nearly two decades building Lady Liberty, which he considered to be less a symbol of freedom than a monument to himself. In Bartholdi's remarkable, mostly overlooked diary and in colorful letters to his mother--the model for Liberty's imposing face--Mitchell finds a comically self-serving artiste who looks down his Gallic nose at the young and burgeoning United States. But
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October 23, 2011
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