Customer Reviews for

The Wordy Shipmates

Average Rating 4
( 48 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(15)

4 Star

(21)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

The Puritans were America's first rap stars.

In her latest book The Wordy Shipmates, fiercely witty author Sarah Vowell revisits the motley crew of European expatriates who provided a foundation to our country. As witnessed through the vivid language of speeches, debates and verbal catfights, these literary innov...
In her latest book The Wordy Shipmates, fiercely witty author Sarah Vowell revisits the motley crew of European expatriates who provided a foundation to our country. As witnessed through the vivid language of speeches, debates and verbal catfights, these literary innovators created a layered story of stoic ideals, dramatic controversy, and rugged but determined heroism. All of this blockbuster drama is woven into the syllables of American history. A few brave colonists took a chance on ship across the angry Atlantic and became the nation's first jet-setting rebels. Who were these star-spangled celebrities? The Puritans.

The word 'Puritan' does not bring to mind the glitz and glamour of a fight for democracy and independence. Most Americans conjure a few images of Thanksgiving and thankless manual labor at the very mention of the word. A 'Puritan work ethic' is the most enduring image of these original New Englanders, but Sarah Vowell makes it apparent that it is their spirit for new ideas and quest to become the idyllic "city upon a hill" that has permeated the root of American culture and society. Though the sentiment behind the words may have witnessed several transformations, America remains a nation of words just as the Puritans who landed in New England in 1630.

Sarah Vowell reminds us of how much we didn't learn in history class about our assumed ancestry. She guides both the casual and avid American historian on a journey of words from stormy England across the sea to the colony of Massachusetts Bay. Among the most purely Puritan of the cast of shipmates included in the story are the persistent and stoic governor John Winthrop and his right-hand minister John Cotton. Providing drama are the colony's premiere upstarts such as "American Jezebel" Anne Hutchinson, a woman who dared to have some words of her own, and Roger Williams, whose rebellious and shocking ideas led to such American standards as freedom of speech and separation of church and state.

Shipmates showcases not only history, but the vitality of real people who happened to set the stage for a future democracy. The reader is left with the sense of just how important words still are. The words of the past come back to form new styles of government. The words of today reflect a new way of saying an old idea. This book updates the Puritan image and interprets the words and concepts of our forefathers in an accessible format. Just as our Puritan ancestors, we have good intentions and we make mistakes, but still we encourage education, debate and the spirit of discovery. Sarah Vowell demonstrates an idea that I find to be comforting. America's wordy ship is still sailing. The Wordy Shipmates is a must ready for any American, historians and rap stars alike.

posted by Persephone16 on May 14, 2010

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Don't pick up The Wordy Shipmates expecting a grown-up version o

Don't pick up The Wordy Shipmates expecting a grown-up version of Thanksgiving-centered lesson plans from grade school. Sarah Vowell offers an accurate portrayal of the Puritans in this well-researched non-fiction title, which regularly quotes primary source material an...
Don't pick up The Wordy Shipmates expecting a grown-up version of Thanksgiving-centered lesson plans from grade school. Sarah Vowell offers an accurate portrayal of the Puritans in this well-researched non-fiction title, which regularly quotes primary source material and is delivered in a fast-paced, humorous, narrative style.

Vowell introduces us to colorful characters who pop off the page, real people from our country's past who demand attention and dare to be remembered. She brings history to life. I especially loved learning more about Roger Williams and the founding of Rhode Island. Here's this crazy zealot who, despite his own fanatical beliefs, believes in and advocates for the separation of church and state so wholeheartedly that he is exiled. He's a man well ahead of his time.

My only complaint: There are a few moments when the commentary veers far off topic with an unnecessarily venomous slant. It seemed as if she was actively looking for opportunities to insert a jab. Don't misunderstand: I enjoy sarcastic, sardonic humor. I also think there's no need to be cruel. (You'll definitely find out how deeply she hates Ronald Reagan).

So yes, once in awhile Vowell gets soapboxy; but for the most part, it's nice to walk through the connections she makes, how the past ties in with current events. Vowell is passionate about her topic, and that really shines through when reading The Wordy Shipmates. I couldn't help but think how much more interested in history I would have been in school if our texts had expressed even half of Vowell's enthusiasm. Sarah Vowell believes the Puritans are worth getting to know, and I think she succeeds in convincing her readers of the same. 3 1/2 stars.

posted by lovelybookshelf on June 11, 2014

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 2
  • Posted May 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Puritans were America's first rap stars.

    In her latest book The Wordy Shipmates, fiercely witty author Sarah Vowell revisits the motley crew of European expatriates who provided a foundation to our country. As witnessed through the vivid language of speeches, debates and verbal catfights, these literary innovators created a layered story of stoic ideals, dramatic controversy, and rugged but determined heroism. All of this blockbuster drama is woven into the syllables of American history. A few brave colonists took a chance on ship across the angry Atlantic and became the nation's first jet-setting rebels. Who were these star-spangled celebrities? The Puritans.

    The word 'Puritan' does not bring to mind the glitz and glamour of a fight for democracy and independence. Most Americans conjure a few images of Thanksgiving and thankless manual labor at the very mention of the word. A 'Puritan work ethic' is the most enduring image of these original New Englanders, but Sarah Vowell makes it apparent that it is their spirit for new ideas and quest to become the idyllic "city upon a hill" that has permeated the root of American culture and society. Though the sentiment behind the words may have witnessed several transformations, America remains a nation of words just as the Puritans who landed in New England in 1630.

    Sarah Vowell reminds us of how much we didn't learn in history class about our assumed ancestry. She guides both the casual and avid American historian on a journey of words from stormy England across the sea to the colony of Massachusetts Bay. Among the most purely Puritan of the cast of shipmates included in the story are the persistent and stoic governor John Winthrop and his right-hand minister John Cotton. Providing drama are the colony's premiere upstarts such as "American Jezebel" Anne Hutchinson, a woman who dared to have some words of her own, and Roger Williams, whose rebellious and shocking ideas led to such American standards as freedom of speech and separation of church and state.

    Shipmates showcases not only history, but the vitality of real people who happened to set the stage for a future democracy. The reader is left with the sense of just how important words still are. The words of the past come back to form new styles of government. The words of today reflect a new way of saying an old idea. This book updates the Puritan image and interprets the words and concepts of our forefathers in an accessible format. Just as our Puritan ancestors, we have good intentions and we make mistakes, but still we encourage education, debate and the spirit of discovery. Sarah Vowell demonstrates an idea that I find to be comforting. America's wordy ship is still sailing. The Wordy Shipmates is a must ready for any American, historians and rap stars alike.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 4, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Terrific New Book

    As anyone who has read any of Sarah Vowell's other books might have expected, this book is a terrific, enjoyable, and informative read. It's well-written, insightful, engaging, and a must-read for anyone who is interested in, knows about, or cares about history... or is just looking for a terrifically written, wonderful read. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 27, 2008

    Classic Sarah Vowell, Engaging Readers in Forgotten, Obscure, but Important Historical Topics and Revealing Their Present Day Relevancy

    Starting with the oft-overlooked differences between Pilgrims and Puritans, Sarah Vowell dives in the world colonial Massachusetts to show that we are even today profoundly influenced by the thinking and rhetoric of those early colonists. <BR/><BR/>She addresses the career of John Winthrop who at times rules the early colony with a stern hand but still manages to recall from time to time the Christian principle of compassion. Vowell also gives us a look at the revolutionary philosophy of the gifted founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams and briefly touches on the fascinating Anne Hutchinson.<BR/><BR/>While the engaging humorous asides and breaks for her personal commentary that have marked her previous books are still in evidence and still endearing, they are fewer and farther between. There also seems to be a greater depth of research with more detail than earlier works. Less humor, more research and a topic like the Puritans may seem to make for a boring read...it doesn't.<BR/><BR/>What Sarah Vowell does is brilliant. Her treatment of the topic may not rise to the scholarly level of a history professor, but it is much more likely to be read and discussed. That's a very good thing. I'll be honest, I envy Sarah Vowell for her ability to commit to such a demanding topic and write about it with such genuine affection for some of the long dead figures that you wished the book were longer. She is a gifted writer and a gift to our country.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2014

    THIS IS HOW WE DO IT

    OH YEA??? OH YEA...OH YEA??? OH YEA...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2014

    In case anybody looks here

    I have an add-on for the thing at wordy res two... <p> llamacorns! <p> -Anonymous

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Hi from Firefly.

    I posted ads at "cold snap" result two and at "winter soda" result one. Love you.

    Firefly

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2013

    To Shimmerheart

    HEY YOU STOLE MY NAME!!!!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    Highly readable and enjoyable.

    This book taught me things I did not know about the english who settled in New England. Sarah Vowel has done a magnificent job of detailing how America became the America we live in today.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    Royalists vs. Separatists

    A nonfiction account of the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who were loyalists, as opposed to the Puritans in Plymouth, who were separatists. Vowell presented both positive and negative aspects of the times, comparing past issues with similar ones today. Her story made the people seem more real to me. I enjoyed reading this candid version of history—much more complex than what I was taught in school.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I LOVED this book!

    It's clear that Vowell has done a thorough job of research and knows her subject intimately. She has a wonderful rye sense of humor, enjoying all the contradictions and foibles of the various Puritans and Pilgrims. But she also has great affection for them. So she doesn't tear them down; she just shows how human they are.

    Vowell not only thoroughly explains the historic context at the time, but also follows it through to today. Her take is unorthodox, but always thought-provoking and often laughter-provoking, too. This is actually an important book for us to read today, because these are our intellectual and often political & economic forebears and they still live on in us today.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2009

    Sarah Vowell does not disappoint!

    Very early American history has never been as amusing or relevant as when Sarah Vowell turns her considerable wit and research on it. Perfect for anyone who enjoy's Vowell's wry outlook, or anyone who thinks history is boring, or, really, anyone who can read.

    Great read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The not so dour Puritans

    I hadn't read Sarah Vowell before, but I had read much on the Puritans. This book told me some things I hadn't known before. Somehow, most of the other 'scholars' managed to miss that the Puritans were in love with words. It doesn't surprise me though, but it's another instance of our not wanting to understand our physical and spiritual ancesters.
    Wordy Shipmates starts with John Winthrop coming over on the ship. Winthrop, for good or ill, will be a presence in Massachusetts Bay, being several times elected governor. She highlights his statement of a "city on a hill". It rather ends with the Anne Hutchinson affair. Winthrop does not come off well in that. But then even his biographer Edmund Morgan damms him with faint praise over that mess.
    I really appreciated Vowell's bringing the past into the present with her comments on how Reagan used Winthrop's 'city on a hill' image to highlight his, Reagan's vision of America. The one thing that Vowell didn't say, but implied was that America, at least the European colonist side is founded on a vision. A vision that, as with the Pequod war can get terribly mangled.

    Maybe it is my background, but I have only one complaint about the book. Vowell says many times, I'm a 20th century woman, and I don't understand the mindset of these people.' It irks me because she does seem to understand them.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

    History Uncovered

    The book was fascinating, interesting, informative. The writing was amusing and at times spellbinding. She may look at history differently from some professor; but I'd read her version than a dusty textbook.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Our Patriotic Ancestors Unravelled!

    Nathaniel Hawthorne said it best about the Puritans examined, vilified and honored in this no-nonsense, all-points-of-view historical treatment by the iconoclastic Sarah Vowell, "Let us thank God for having given us such ancestors; and let each successive generation thank Him, not less fervently, for being one step further from them in the march of ages." <BR/><BR/>A pre-requisite for reading this book is the ability to hold focus, as the author dances between past and present with historical figures, events and analysis, not always in a linear fashion. But the work is well worth the effort, for here is an author who forces us to think about just much our ancestoral legacy has shaped our domestic and foreign political policy in and beyond America. And if the reader is too lazy to do so, well Ms. Vowell covers innumerable bases before she concludes with a realistic slam-dunk, home-run vision of Puritans shaping a new land.<BR/><BR/>It all begins with some terse debunking of our stereotypical, Brady-bunch Thanksgiving dinner style picture of Puritans sitting down with the native Indians. We get a full account of the Catholic-Protestant debate back home in merry 'ol England to the point where we realize that emigration was better than the looming death waiting off-stage had they remained in England. Ms. Vowell also gives us, through examination fo the writings of John Winthrop, a superb analysis of a successful leader in those times, an intelligent, dogmatic and even dictatorial guy who knew how to spin Biblical verses into sermons that guaranteed communal agreement and obedience to authority, meaning himself, of course. The vision is clearly set forth, one to which any American might gravitate in dark times: United we stand, Divided we fall. Simple!<BR/><BR/>A large portion of this account covers the hugely antagonistic relationship between John Winthrop and Roger Williams, the latter a more excessive version of Puritanism than even those staid Puritan figures who found entertainment in attending Church several times a week. Williams attempted to teach the Native Indians in Providence the concept of original sin; the results of that effort don't make for pretty reading, understandable as it may seem if one stops long enough to really think about hearing such an idea for the first time.<BR/><BR/>Finally, we have a brief but potent treatment of Anne Hutchinson, the Puritan "brain" of the bunch, the original American Oprah, who preached that one could only know if one were saved by "feeling" it. Excommunication to the Bronx followed her vociferous preaching; the uninhabited Bronx, not the presently densely populated city within a city.<BR/><BR/>Satire, alternatingly droll with interspersed raucous humor, reflection, challenge, and meditation fill these pages with so much history connected to Nixon, Reagan, 911 and so much more that the reader occasionally has to stop or risk overload. But it's an overload that is far too infrequently heard and a welcome, refreshing burst of fresh air whirling through older significant times to hopefully create a historical future different because of this notable reading experience. Finely, finely done! <BR/><BR/>Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on February 9, 2009

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 22, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Entertaining, a quick read

    Vowell illustrates a period in the history of New England that is glossed over in school. The actions and motivations of Winthrop and the other members of the Massachussetts Bay Colony (1630) clearly resonate in American history. Vowell's writing is clear and full of the funny asides that make her previous writing (Assassination Vacation, The Partly Cloudy Patriot) and her radio appearances (This American Life) so enjoyable. Look for an appearance by her nephew, Owen, who clearly epitomizes the average American schoolchild's reaction when asked to reconcile history as learned in the elementary school classroom with history as learned from the historical record.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 2