The Wordy Shipmates

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The Wordy Shipmates

Author: Sarah Vowell
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 254

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In The Wordy Shipmates, Sarah Vowell travels once again through America's past, this time to seventeenth-century New England. From the British Library to the Mohegan Sun casino, from the nation's first synagogue to a Mayflower waterslide, Vowell studies the Puritan effect and finds their beliefs about church and state more interesting than their buckles-and-corn reputation would suggest.

She asks: Was Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop a communitarian, Christlike Christian, or conformity's tyrannical enforcer? Yes! Was Rhode Island's architect Roger Williams America's founding freak or the father of the First Amendment? Same difference. How come Henry Vane the Younger, who argued against beheading the English king, was himself beheaded for helping behead said king? Good question. 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. What is the lesson of the Pequot War? Why, don't fire one of your military's embarrassingly few Arabic translators just because he's gay, of course.

As in all Vowell's bestselling books, this exploration of America's past is both poignant and entertaining. The Wordy Shipmates is rich with historical fact, humorous insight, and social commentary by one of America's celebrated voices.

Background Information

New England is the name given to those states that lie north and east of New York State. The Mayflower Compact was drawn up and signed in 1620 by the males among the Pilgrims who crossed the Atlantic on the Mayflower. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was chartered in England and included the settlements near Boston. John Winthrop was one of the leaders of the Pilgrims in their settlement in Plymouth beginning in 1620. Roger Williams was driven from the Massachusetts Bay Colony due to his religious views and founded Providence, Rhode Island. The First Amendment bestows on Americans the freedoms of speech and religion as part of the Bill of Rights. Anne Hutchinson was expelled from Massachusetts for speaking out against Puritan practices and became a founder of Rhode Island.