So if you’re looking for a straightforward history that conforms neatly to the Thanksgiving story as depicted by your local elementary school kindergarten program then you might want to stay away from The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell . It’s a great book, but I’m just gonna warn you up front that it’ll upset your apple cart if you want to think of the Indians as the savages who didn’t deserve this country and you see Columbus and the pilgrims as the ones who brought civility to this land.
More than just a history Vowell frequently compares and contrasts the actions and beliefs of these early settlers to modern politics. She rarely misses an opportunity to tell how modern perceptions are wrong and even throws in quite a few digs at politicians who attempt to distort the pilgrim’s real goals and agendas. This was actually my favorite part of the book.
I found this book very eye opening. Too much of our early history has been romanticized and pretty much turned into a sacred American mythology. This book took away the nonsense and showed a much more believable account of history. Much like as in Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me it was refreshing to see our history displayed warts and all.
I listened to this book on CD. It’s narrated by the author. Sarah Vowell has a very funny voice. She played the voice of Violet Parr in The Incredibles. Many times while listening to this she made me giggle, not just because of the words, but by the funny way that she delivered them. There is also a small cast of male voices that are used to narrate quotes from male sources. Fans of The Daily Show will recognize several of them. They definitely added to the atmosphere of the CD.
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