Because I so thoroughly enjoyed Assassination Vacation, I immediately checked out The Wordy Shipmates, another historical tome from Sarah Vowell. color me equally impressed.
As with "Assassination..." Sarah takes her readers on a geographical quest to learn more about our nation's history – this time, her target is the Puritan and Separatist colonies in New England, circa the 17th and 18th centuries. Thanks to her engaging prose, readers will learn more about each of these groups' existence, and how our fledgling nation took shape prior to the Revolutionary War.
A vast majority of the tale deals with Puritan leader and governor John Winthrop, along with Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson. This book will leave its reader with a better understanding of the origins or puritanism and separatism (it all goes back to those darn Royals!), and I was astonished at the amount of crazy some of these people brought to the table - especially their arrogant/ignorant dismissal of the Native American community. After all, these were the people establishing their "City On A Hill."
One can't help but chuckle at the mental picture drawn as Sarah details her trip to Plimoth with her sister and elementary-aged nephew and the argument that ensues between her relatives and the "residents" at Plimoth Plantation.
However, I think the biggest impact the book had on me was to remind me what prolific writers our ancestors were, and that most was quite eloquent, even if you disagreed with the commentary. There's just something so beautiful about the writing from this era. I can't help but admire Sarah's work ethic on this book, poring over Winthrop's diaries with painstaking care. Again, another excellent historical non-fiction read.