Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Wordy Shipmates

by Sarah Vowell
The Wordy Shipmates is not what I was expecting; I pictured maybe a colorful trip back in time, where, through Vowell's quirky lens, we would get a close-up portrait of life on the Mayflower and among the Pilgrims of Plymouth. Vowell is more interested in the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and, more importantly, getting us into the heads of those Puritans. Why, exactly, were they Puritans? Why leave England when they did? What did the New World mean to them? And, perhaps most interestingly, how did their values evolve into the America of George W. Bush? I realized I had been expecting a movie, albeit a daring independent film, but Vowell delivered something even better: a book, with the power to not just show us history but to help us get inside the minds of people we never thought we'd relate to.

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