Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Favorite Reads: Wordy Shipmates

In My Favorite Reads each week I am featuring one of my favorite reads from the past. July is American History month!

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowel

Summary (from the publisher):
In this New York Times bestseller, the author of Assassination Vacation "brings the [Puritan] era wickedly to life" [Washington Post].

To this day, America views itself as a Puritan nation, but Sarah Vowell investigates what that means - and what it should mean. What she discovers is something far different from what their uptight shoebuckles-and-corn reputation might suggest - a highly literate, deeply principled, and surprisingly feisty people, whose story is filled with pamphlet feuds, witty courtroom dramas, and bloody vengeance.

Vowell 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.

Why I chose this book:
Do you have fond memories of the Pilgrim-themed episode of "The Brady Bunch"? Sarah does! Sarah Vowell is reliably funny and informative. It's hard to make the Puritans funny (without laughing AT them) but Ms. Vowell does accomplish it. She also manages to explain the Pequot War in a brief but full fashion which isn't easy. This is about the group in Boston, not the Mayflower group in Plymouth Rock. A fast, easy read (although I'd have liked chapter breaks), this is perfect for history lovers who are a bit quirky.


Alyce said...

I thought I would love this one, but tried it on audiobook and couldn't really get into it. I've heard from others that they loved the audio, so I think this may be one of those books where I am the odd one out. I'm thinking I may give it a second chance though at some point - maybe in print form this time.

Carin Siegfried said...

Sarah Vowell's voice takes some getting used to. If you've not heard her on This American Life or anything, she can be a bit grating at first. Now, I think her unique voice is an asset, but it surely did take some acclimation.