The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

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Synopsis

The Wordy Shipmates is New York Times?bestselling author Sarah Vowell?s exploration of the Puritans and their journey to America to become the people of John Winthrop?s ?city upon a hill??a shining example, a ?city that cannot be hid.?

To this day, 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? What Vowell discovers is something far different from what their uptight shoe-buckles-and- corn reputation might suggest. 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 Christlike 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 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.

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, where ?righteousness? is rhymed with ?wilderness,? to a Mayflower-themed waterslide. Throughout, 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.
 

About Sarah Vowell

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Sarah Vowell is the author of the bestselling Assassination Vacation, The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Take the Cannoli, and Radio On. She is a contributing editor for public radio’s This American Life. She is also a McSweeney’s person and the voice of teenage superhero Violet Parr in Pixar Animation Studios’ The Incredibles.
 
Published October 6, 2008 by Riverhead Books. 273 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Wordy Shipmates

Kirkus Reviews

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here she pores over the texts—the many texts—of the principals who interest her: John Cotton, John Winthrop and Roger Williams, in addition to the aforementioned Hutchinson and Endecott.

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The New York Times

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Sarah Vowell’s pop history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony hums along with chipper personal details and genial talk-show banter. It’s also really annoying.

Nov 30 2008 | Read Full Review of The Wordy Shipmates

Publishers Weekly

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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.

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BC Books

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"The worldview behind that motto — we're here to help whether you want our help or not," Vowell notes, is the colony's "most enduring bequest to the United States."

Oct 06 2008 | Read Full Review of The Wordy Shipmates

BC Books

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For Vowell, this is exemplified in large part by Winthrop's "A Model of Christian Charity," a sermon he wrote before or during the voyage.

Oct 06 2008 | Read Full Review of The Wordy Shipmates

Book Reporter

Sarah Vowell, like many of us, was likely introduced to "the shining city on the hill" by President Ronald Reagan.

Jan 24 2011 | Read Full Review of The Wordy Shipmates

AV Club

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But Vowell's insights into her subjects' meanings and motivations, combined with reflection and personal anecdotes—such as relating Winthrop's ideal of communal suffering and comfort to buying toothpaste for 9/11 relief workers, or an episode of The Brady Bunch coloring her early perceptions...

Oct 08 2008 | Read Full Review of The Wordy Shipmates

Christian Science Monitor

Sarah Vowell, a popular contributor to public radio’s “This American Life,” is an American-history buff with a self-proclaimed predilection for Puritan New England, the Civil War, and bloodbaths.

Oct 22 2008 | Read Full Review of The Wordy Shipmates

Pajiba

The line the Puritans are teetering on between outright treason of the British Crown and following their religious convictions is precarious at best — it’s a constant struggle to serve both the King and God.

Jan 09 2009 | Read Full Review of The Wordy Shipmates

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Unsure whether you should invest in Sarah Vowell's latest book, The Wordy Shipmates?

Nov 05 2008 | Read Full Review of The Wordy Shipmates

Tampa Bay Times

("That is really what it says," Vowell informs us.) Vowell sees that attitude traveling though history to the Vietnam War, Ronald Reagan's Cold War, and — you knew it was coming — George W.

Nov 04 2010 | Read Full Review of The Wordy Shipmates

Bookmarks Magazine

Sarah Vowell is the author of several books (Assassination Vacation, 3.5 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2005), but she is perhaps best known for her contributions to the radio program This American Life.

Oct 05 2008 | Read Full Review of The Wordy Shipmates

Austin Chronicle

Winthrop embodies America's best and worst impulses, and through the defining events of his colony's tumultuous launch – a massacre of American Indians, a law barring immigrants deemed "dangerous" to the colony, the trials of Williams and Hutchinson – we can see our national character being set.

Oct 24 2008 | Read Full Review of The Wordy Shipmates

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