November 25, 2008
Puritans in Focus
Recent book has the mainstream press 'wordy' about the Puritans.
Every November America's thoughts turn briefly toward those curious early settlers of New England. While it's the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation--those Separatists from the Church of England at the center of our much-contested Thanksgiving myth--who normally receive our attention, this year regular NPR contributor Sarah Vowell's bestseller, The Wordy Shipmates, has directed our gaze to their Puritan cousins to the north.
Vowell's breezy style and playful manner may put off those who hold the Puritans in high esteem as models of devotion. And her occasionally freewheeling conjectures will no doubt be deemed incautious by the guild of historians. Nevertheless, those serious about their Christian faith and those serious about history should take heart that she's respectfully mainstreamed both while offering a better-than-cursory treatment. Any book that sparks worthwhile conversation about the Puritans in the national press is a reason to give thanks.
Some of the more notable reviews:
Marc Arkin in The Wall Street Journal
Erika Schickel in the Los Angeles Times
Stephen Prothero in The Washington Post
And a brief interview in The Boston Globe.