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American history
New England

The Wordy Shipmates

Sarah Vowell.
Publisher Riverhead  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 8.5 x 5.75 x 0.8 inches
ISBN 9781594489990
Pages/Publication Date 254/2008
Daedalus Item Code 22849
This item is not available.
To this day, America views itself as a Puritan nation of chosen people, blessed by God, says Sarah Vowell, the author of Assassination Vacation and a former contributing editor to public radio's This American Life. But in this delightfully unfusty history, investigating what that means (and what it should mean), Vowell reveals that, shoe buckles aside, the Puritans were a highly literate, deeply principled, downright feisty people, whose story includes pamphlet feuds, witty courtroom dramas, and bloody vengeance. This is history with a pop-culture twang, in which the wisdom of Homer Simpson and anecdotes of vacation bible school illuminate the founding of our nation.

"What makes The Wordy Shipmates float is not so much its arguments as its voice. Most writing on the Puritans is as dour as the Puritans themselves. Vowell has fun with them, and in the process, she helps us take seriously both their lives and their legacy."Washington Post

"Although Puritanism is conflated with modern religious fundamentalism and its disregard for any learning that doesn't come from the Bible, Vowell argues passionately that Puritans were as enamored of wisdom and knowledge as religious virtue. Focusing on the Puritans who settled in 1630 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Vowell laments the image of Puritans as 'boring killjoys' when in fact they were 'fascinating killjoys' who, aside from their belief that Catholics were going to hell, were much more open to new ideas than we've been led to think. Drawing on letters, essays, and sermons, Vowell offers a penetrating look at the tensions between John Winthrop, John Cotton, Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, and others as they argued about the role of religion in government and everyday life. They saw themselves as God's chosen people, a credo that set the tone for American history and notions of manifest destiny that have led to all manner of imposition on other lands and cultures. But they also vehemently debated separation of church and state and founded Harvard, even as they pondered the destiny of what Winthrop referred to as the 'shining city on the hill.' A book dense with detail, insight, and humor."Booklist (starred review)

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