Monday, May 25, 2009

The Wordy Shipmates

Exceptionalism. If you know a reader who hates reading history because it’s boring, read and recommend Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates. Vowell tells the story of John Winthrop and his fellow shipmates from the Arbella, who arrived in America from England to practice their religion. Winthrop’s 1630 sermon, “A Model of Christian Charity,” provides the context for Vowell’s chatty and irreverent exploration of these people who followed the Bible and set a foundation for American life. Winthrop’s “city on a hill” has become a part of our identity that defines our country as an exceptional place with a destiny to perform good acts for the world. Vowell explores the way Anne Hutchinson was treated, and how Roger Williams built a community with tolerance at its center. Vowell’s contemporary take on this era and her conversational and quirky writing style makes The Wordy Shipmates a reading adventure rather than a plodding narrative.

Rating: Three-star (Recommended)

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