Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Founding of New England - Winner, Non-Fiction, 1922

The Founding of New England
By: James Truslow Adams
The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1921

I wouldn't exactly call The Founding of New England a great read, but I did learn more about the founding of the New England colonies specifically than I ever did as a history major in college. For example, did you know that revisionist history is NOT a new thing? Adams' point in this book was that, contrary to popular belief, the New England colonies were not founded solely for religious freedom. He makes a very convincing argument for the fact that, for many of the colonists, economic gains motivated them more than the search for a place to worship freely.

A second major focus of Adams' in The Founding of New England was the belligerency of the Massachusetts colony. Adams compares the narrow view of the Massachusetts colony, who only sought their own gain and power, to the much broader view of the British empire, who had interests in colonies all over the world and had to keep each colony in check for the benefit of the entire empire. These are aspects of the early colonizing of New England that I either never learned or have no recollection of learning about.

This book can be a pretty dull read at times, but those who are interested in colonial history might learn something new and those who are interested in the thought processes of historians in the 1920s will definitely get some insight.

1 comment:

RC said...

i really like the fact that you show with this book that revisionist history is not knew.

i wonder if that's why it won the pulitzer prize. more than for it's writings or ideas, but perhaps people recognized a different method. a history that allowed for re-evaluation?