×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies: New Zealand and the United States
     

Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies: New Zealand and the United States

by David Hackett Fischer
 

See All Formats & Editions

Fairness and Freedom compares the history of two open societies--New Zealand and the United States--with much in common. Both have democratic polities, mixed-enterprise economies, individuated societies, pluralist cultures, and a deep concern for human rights and the rule of law. But all of these elements take different forms, because constellations of

Overview

Fairness and Freedom compares the history of two open societies--New Zealand and the United States--with much in common. Both have democratic polities, mixed-enterprise economies, individuated societies, pluralist cultures, and a deep concern for human rights and the rule of law. But all of these elements take different forms, because constellations of value are far apart. The dream of living free is America's Polaris; fairness and natural justice are New Zealand's Southern Cross. Fischer asks why these similar countries went different ways. Both were founded by English-speaking colonists, but at different times and with disparate purposes. They lived in the first and second British Empires, which operated in very different ways. Indians and Maori were important agents of change, but to different ends. On the American frontier and in New Zealand's Bush, material possibilities and moral choices were not the same. Fischer takes the same comparative approach to parallel processes of nation-building and immigration, women's rights and racial wrongs, reform causes and conservative responses, war-fighting and peace-making, and global engagement in our own time--with similar results. On another level, this book expands Fischer's past work on liberty and freedom. It is the first book to be published on the history of fairness. And it also poses new questions in the old tradition of history and moral philosophy. Is it possible to be both fair and free? In a vast array of evidence, Fischer finds that the strengths of these great values are needed to correct their weaknesses. As many societies seek to become more open--never twice in the same way, an understanding of our differences is the only path to peace.

Editorial Reviews

Colin Woodard
This book is the result of Fischer's quest to understand how and why these two open societies came to take such different paths, and it provides valuable insight into the American identity.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Fischer (Washington’s Crossing) speculates about what in the differing histories and cultures of the U.S. and New Zealand explains the American emphasis on personal freedom and the Pacific nation’s elevation of equitableness to a cultural norm. As always, Fischer briskly moves through a vast amount of history as he spins his thesis that differing histories of such factors as settlement, immigration, ecology, native inhabitants, and governance explain each nation’s distinctiveness. This is comparative history at its liveliest, looking, for instance, at why Maori culture has been so much more influential in New Zealand than Native American culture in the U.S. Trouble is, Fischer assumes what he seeks to demonstrate. Also, the book is too filled with first-person stories and (typically for Fischer) overly schematic. Nor does the fact that he spent time Down Under justify his choice to compare these two nations as opposed to, say, Australia and Canada, two other nations established largely out of British roots. Thus this book is inventive while not convincing, deft while methodologically thin. Photos, 93 b&w illus., maps. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"Fischer has written an engaging work of interest to both general readers and historians. His excellent introduction to the relative weighting of thse key values in New Zealand and the United States should encourage scholars to emabrk on broader studies of why shared commitments to fairness and freedom have resulted in different balances in the histories of open societies." —Journal of American History

"A pioneering, illuminating, and at times startling book...Ambitious and observant...Fairness and Freedom is a work of frequently profound historical and social analysis" —The Atlantic, also selected as one of the 15 best books reviewed in The Atlantic or published in 2012

"[FAIRNESS AND FREEDOM] provides valuable insight into the American identity . . . In an era of increasing inequality, his is a timely argument, and one well worth hearing." —Washington Post Book World

"So far it is the best non-fiction book of the year, by a clear mark." —Tyler Cowen, MarginalRevolution.com

Library Journal
At first glance, a comparative history of New Zealand and the United States may seem odd. A visiting professorship brought Fischer (history, Brandeis Univ.; Washington's Crossing) to New Zealand and drew his focus to the country's history and politics. He noticed that the political rhetoric there centered on ideals of fairness and justice, while Americans still seem to value freedom and liberty. He traces the roots of both countries in the British Empire, their relations with native peoples, and expanding rights for women and minorities, while contrasting their approaches to political rights and economic justice. VERDICT Although Fischer wants to make this book a comparative study of the grand political ideals of fairness and freedom (a global scope would have worked well for that goal and justified the length), ultimately it's more an introduction to New Zealand history, made more understandable for Americans with the addition of basic U.S. history. Best for Americans interested in learning more about New Zealand's history, the British Empire, and international political history or for potential study-abroad students.—Kate Stewart, American Folklife Ctr., Washington, DC

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199912957
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
02/10/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
9 MB

Meet the Author

David Hackett Fischer teaches history at Brandeis University. His books include The Great Wave, Albion's Seed, and Liberty and Freedom. Washington's Crossing was a New York Times bestseller and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005. Champlain's Dream was an international bestseller, and won McGill's Cundill Award for Excellence in 2008.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Wayland, Massachusetts
Date of Birth:
December 2, 1935
Place of Birth:
Baltimore, Maryland
Education:
A.B., Princeton University, 1958; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1962

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews