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Posted November 4, 2009
Visible Saints is an historical gem that speaks to everyone about the real people who built our country. It reads like a novel and has been researched and indexed to impeccable standards. This book truly captures the heart of colonial Connecticut.
Who would have thought that an historical glimpse of a small colonial village could be so compelling?! In the tradition of James McPherson and Bruce Catton, Peter J. Malia brings history to life in colonial West Haven, Connecticut, through the eyes of ordinary people. Visible Saints is the story of a struggle within a struggle -- hard-headed free thinkers who fought to loosen the Puritanical reins of theocratic restraint.
Malia weaves a charming narrative that is at once gripping, at times humorous and ultimately enlightening. The result is a revelation that unwraps the real story about life on Long Island Sound in the century and a half leading up to the American Revolution and the founding of our modern government. This book clearly and methodically puts to rest the idea that democracy was the result of a single-minded vision. By giving voice to the maverick personalities who challenged prevailing thought, the author delightfully chronicles the growing pains and triumph of the "problem child of Puritan Connecticut."
Visible Saints is a beautifully researched, scholarly look at a vital and vibrant people determined to underscore the importance of this time with their own definition of liberty. An extensive bibliography, notes and index are the capstone of this volume. Whether you are a serious student of colonial America or a casual observer of what came before, Visible Saints will both educate and captivate. It is a joy to read.
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Posted April 15, 2011
While it is the youngest town in Connecticut, only incorporated in 1921, West Haven was a village unto itself from the time of its settlement as part of New Haven. Thus much of this small history is also the history of New Haven. This volume is also a unique sort of history. While the author presents many facets of the town's story, the title itself reveals a focus on religious aspects.... One theme running through the book is the challenge to the Congregational Church by the Anglicans. A chapter describes the effect of the "New Lights" on the old church; the theme of church authority recurs throughout. But there is plenty of other political and cultural detail, in particular the blow-by-blow account of the British attack on 5 July 1779. In an appendix on "Officeholders, 1640-1798," the author analyzes the social status of those who ran the town and includes his list of 603 men who held office, a nice lode for genealogists to mine. Clearly the author, a life-long West Haven resident, has a great love of his subject. It is a book well worth reading from cover to cover for anyone interested in New England history. Helen Schatvet Ullmann New England Genealogical and Historical SocietyWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 20, 2010
I too grew up in West Haven and was interested to learn some of our local history. It was fun to see the origin of street names. I knew the story of Wm Campbell but it was explained more fully in the book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.