I loved Sarah Vowell's other books. This one goes on a bit too long about, what I found, too narrow a focus. I found it difficult to keep track of the persons discussed, particularly since she seemed to jump back and forth. Listening and not reading may have exacerbated this.
Prime Lover 53
I suppose I should have known better than to think this was a straightforward history of the Puritans. Given the author's bio, I was aware that she might provide a humorous slant on the subject matter. She actually does provide that perspective, and it helps illustrate her points. However, she soon degenerates into such a sarcastic, left-leaning perspective that it begins to obscure the very story she is attempting to tell. In my view, the book would have been more compelling had she not tarnished its value with her unnecessary political commentary.
Semi retired small business person/ college professor/ investor.
This book is roughly equal thirds of history, clever and funny comments on that history, and the author's comments on modern political events in light of the history. The first is interesting, the second is entertaining, and the third you just hold your nose and get through.
The political circumstances in and surrounding the founding of the Massachusetts colony and the players in it are an important and very often misunderstood part of our history. This book has interesting insights to the period and personnel of early Boston. The author makes numerous clever comments about the happenings of the time and strange way we commemorate things.
If you were not already aware that the original Native Americans fared very poorly at the hands of the conquering Europeans this book will set you straight. Much of that information provided in regards to Indian treatment is not really related to the subject at hand.
The author's commentary on how little we actually teach history and the sanitized and grossly inaccurate portrayals that are popular culture is humorous for a while but gets tedious after a while. One more mention of the Brady Bunch sitcom would have done me in.
Finally the commentary on modern politics is typical liberal academia stuff. The conservatives are a bunch of idiots and the left are the second coming of god, that is if the author believed in god, which she tells us on no uncertain terms that she does not. If you are interested on how both the right and the left have misused the rights of the American people listen to "Legacy of Ashes". Listen to this book if you want to learn about Early New England. The political stuff is the price you have to pay to get the knowledge. It is a shame this could have been a really good book.
I love Sarah on This American Life but she blew it here. The narrative bounces backward and forward in time so erratically that there is no thread to hang on to. Her passion for the minutia of Pilgrim dogma would be appropriate for lecturing a class of seminarians, but is wasted on the general reader. The subject was promising but she should have used more of the historians' discipline, and less idiosyncratic personal riffing, in order to engage this listener.
3 Items to consider when looking at history
-What was the historical climate of the event
-What is the historical climate of the time of the writing.
-What is the historical climate of the writer.
This did not work for me
I thought this was supposed to be a history book. Instead, it was a rambling journey into the opinions and biases of the writer, who used some history as the backdrop for her criticism of religion and the early American settlers. Even that would be acceptable, if her unrestrained, random flow of words made any sense. I am mad at myself for purchasing such a useless document.
Wordy Shipmates did not live up to my expectations. A large portion of the book is long direct quotes from primary resources with little interpretation from the author. I also expected more social history but feel I learned very little about the Puritans.
Although the book was published recently political commentary already seems incredibly dated and takes you out of the subject completely.
I was a fan of Ms. Vowell's work on This American Life. This was the first of her novels I have read. I was disappointed and a bit bored.
I have never listened to Sarah Vowell on NPR. If I had known that she sounds like a female Buddy Hackett, I wouldn't have attempted this audiobook. I am not a big fan of American History, having suffered through years of it helping my children with their schoolwork. I did learn some things. However, they were not things I cared to learn! While I appreciated the author's modern take on historical events, and found them humorous, it was not enough to make me a fan. This was our bookclub selection for the month, and hopefully I can ward off future such selections.