Thursday, June 20, 2013

[Book Reviews] The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell


Marilyn reviews THE WORDY SHIPMATES by Sarah Vowell (Riverhead Books, 2008)

"The only thing more dangerous than an idea is a belief. And by dangerous I don't mean thought-provoking. I mean: might get people killed" are the first lines of The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell. With wit and humor, she investigates why the Puritans came to America, their community problems in Boston, Massachusetts and the new world they encountered.

Sarah Vowell informs her audience that "[t]his book is about those Puritans who fall between the cracks of 1620 Plymouth and 1682 Salem, the ones who settled in Massachusetts Bay Colony and then Rhode Island during what came to be called the Great Migration." After that statement, she takes the reader on a journey back to 1620 using the Puritan's own words and comparing similar events in our current history of the United States to the Great Migration.

The Wordy Shipmates is not a dull history read, but a thought provoking read into the minds and world of the Massachusetts Puritans. Sarah Vowell also makes an interesting point about how our society looks at the Puritans in television, schools, and historical reenactments. By using John Winthrop's journal as one of her primary sources, she chronicles the events and lives of the Puritans in primarily the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In The Wordy Shipmates, Winthrop's journal comes alive as Sarah Vowell, in her unique style, conveys Winthrop’s strong feelings and logic.

Marilyn Umfress, Central Library

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