The Soul of America
The Soul of America follows writer, journalist, historian and prolific presidential biographer Jon Meacham as he offers his timely and invaluable insights into the United States’ current political and historical moment by examining its past. Based on Meacham’s 2018 bestseller, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, the film illuminates our current fraught political reality by exploring historical challenges of the past, such as the women’s suffrage movement, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, McCarthyism and the struggle to pass Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s – all instances in which “our better angels” battled against the forces of hatred and division that are recurring themes in American life. The film also chronicles Meacham’s life and career as a journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian as he shares his insights into America’s past and present.
"Part political documentary and part biography, the film recognizes forces of hatred and division as recurring themes in American life"
“To know what has come before is to be armed against despair."
- Jon Meacham
The Screening Guide is designed for high school classroom teachers, community screening facilitators, and college professors to engage with the feature-length version of The Soul of America. The film covers case studies from American history in which our “better angels” and our worst instincts were in conflict. They address themes of xenophobia, racism, and economic disparity and insecurity while illustrating the significance of civic engagement, moral leadership, and ethical decision-making. The film is an informative and inspiring complement to teaching US history, government, and civics. This guide contains a statement from the filmmaker, background information on Jon Meacham, and suggested questions for pre- and post-screening discussion.