Fairness and Freedom by David Hackett Fischer
A History of Two Open Societies: New Zealand and the United States

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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.

About David Hackett Fischer

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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.
Published January 13, 2012 by Oxford University Press, USA. 656 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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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.

Dec 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Fairness and Freedom: A Histo...

Bookmarks Magazine

An example is this broadside for new lands in Iowa and Nebraska (1872).


Feb 20 2012 | Read Full Review of Fairness and Freedom: A Histo...

New Zealand Listener

Popper popularised the term “open society” in a very famous book he wrote while in New Zealand, so why not explain the significance of his idea a bit more here?

May 11 2012 | Read Full Review of Fairness and Freedom: A Histo...

Arts Fuse

“Fairness and Freedom” is a cultural/political/social history of the United States and New Zealand in one volume.

Apr 14 2012 | Read Full Review of Fairness and Freedom: A Histo...

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