The Wordy Shipmates (Penguin, $25.95) is, in effect, a sort of grandiose footnote to a pair of Puritan sermons.  If that fails to suggest a wonderfully promiscuous romp through colonial theology, frontier warfare, and American pop culture of the ’70s and ’80s, you are unacquainted with Sarah Vowell.  Drawing on primary sources and short-lived sitcoms, Vowell reveals “the shipmates” to be far stranger and more interesting than our dour caricature of the Puritans suggests: rugged (communitarians), cerebral (fundamentalists), and armed-to-the-teeth (pragmatists).  Along the way, she excavates tropes of American rhetoric like “the shining city on a hill” and reanimates the world of ideas that produced them.  This effort hints at an alternate history where American exceptionalism is less an applause line than a spur to self-criticism and self-sacrifice.

The Wordy Shipmates Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781594484001
Availability: Backordered
Published: Riverhead Books - October 6th, 2009

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