Synopses & Reviews
New York Times
bestselling author Sarah Vowell explores the Puritans and their journey to America in The Wordy Shipmates
. Even today, America views itself as a Puritan nation, but Vowell investigates what that means -- and what it should mean. What was this great political enterprise all about? Who were these people who are considered the philosophical, spiritual, and moral ancestors of our nation? The people she finds are highly literate, deeply principled, and surprisingly feisty. Their story is filled with pamphlet feuds, witty courtroom dramas, and bloody vengeance. Along the way she asks:
Was Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop a communitarian, a Christ-like Christian, or conformity's tyrannical enforcer? Answer: Yes!
Was Rhode Island's architect, Roger Williams, America's founding freak or the father of the First Amendment? Same difference.
What was the Puritans' pet name for the Pope? The Great Whore of Babylon.
Sarah Vowell's special brand of armchair history makes the bizarre and esoteric fascinatingly relevant and fun. She takes us from the modern-day reenactment of an Indian massacre to the Mohegan Sun casino, from old-timey Puritan poetry, to a Mayflower-themed waterslide. The Wordy Shipmates is rich in historical fact, humorous insight, and social commentary by one of America's most celebrated voices. Thou shalt enjoy it.
"Vowellâ€™s account of the post-Mayflower Puritans of New England and their influence on contemporary American culture over the centuries is thoroughly enjoyable in print. But hearing her ironic but passionate little-girl voice making history accessible and providing humorous and often trenchant present-day asides, as she did on NPRâ€™s This American Life, is even better. In addition to fleshing out history with extensive quotes from journals and other documents of the time, Vowell has assembled a sizable cast of co-readers, including Eric Bogosian, Peter Dinklage, Jill Clayburgh, Campbell Scott and Dermot Mulroney. Some narrators feel like stunt casting, although thereâ€™s a lovely cameo by Catherine Keener, whose calm, self-contained voice is perfect for Anne Hutchinson on trial. Vowell and company (aided by Michael Giacchinoâ€™s musical score) make for pleasurable listening. A Riverhead hardcover (Reviews, July 28). (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In The Wordy Shipmates,
Sarah Vowell travels once again through America's past, this time to 17th century New England. From the British Library to the Mohegan Sun Casino, from the nation's first synagogue to a Mayflower waterslide, Vowell studies the Puritan effect and finds their beliefs about church and state more interesting than their buckles and corn reputation would suggest.
Was Massachusetts governor John Winthrop a communitarian, Christ-like Christian or conformity's tyrannical enforcer? Yes! Was Rhode Island's architect Roger Williams America's founding freak or the father of the first amendment? Same difference. How come Henry Vane the Younger, who argued against beheading the English king was himself beheaded for helping behead said king? Good question. What does it take to get that Jezebel Anne Hutchinson to shut up? A hatchet. What was the Puritans' pet name for the Pope? The Great Whore of Babylon. What is the lesson of the Pequot War? Why, don't fire one of your military's embarrassingly few Arabic translators just because they're gay of course.
Like in all Vowell's bestselling works, this exploration of America's past is both poignant and entertaining. The Wordy Shipmates is abundant with historical fact, humorous insight and social commentary by one of America's celebrated voices.
About the Author
Sarah Vowell is a contributing editor for public radio's This American Life and has written for Time, Esquire, GQ, Spin, Salon, McSweeneys, The Village Voice, and the Los Angeles Times. She is the author of Radio On, Take the Cannoli, and The Partly Cloudy Patriot. She lives in New York City.Sarah Vowell is a contributing editor for public radio's This American Life and has written for Time, Esquire, GQ, Spin, Salon, McSweeneys, The Village Voice, and the Los Angeles Times. She is the author of Radio On, Take the Cannoli, and The Partly Cloudy Patriot. She lives in New York City.