The Wordy Shipmates Critical Review

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In The Wordy Shipmates, author Sarah Vowell talks about the Puritans and different aspects of the formation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Vowell makes a vague thesis about how the Puritans were a writing based group of people. Their lives were influenced by all forms of writing whether it is pamphlets, literature, or the bible. The Wordy Shipmates starts off with Vowell stating, “The only thing more dangerous than an idea is a belief. And by dangerous I don’t mean thought-provoking. I mean: might get people killed.” Vowell supports this statement throughout her The Wordy Shipmates as she heavily explains how religion plays an important role in every part of the Puritan lifestyle during this time. When Vowell talks about the Puritan lifestyle back then, the main focus is politic, economic and social events that took place, not descriptions of their everyday lives. Some Puritans were most definitely more religious than others and Vowell does a good said at explaining both points of view while still proving a point she is trying to make Vowell talks the Salem Witch Trials, the “A Model of Christian Charity” speech and people such as Anne Hutchinson or the Pequot tribe to defend her opening statement about beliefs. The emphasis that was put on religion by the Puritans would lead to events that are still relevant to America today. By writing The Wordy Shipmates, Vowell provides a more in depth look at the Puritans that would not be the focus point in a history class. Although Vowell may seem to point more toward the biased side at some points, she does a pretty good job of staying on the “middle ground” through The Wordy Shipmates.

Although The Wordy Shipmates was not the worst book ever written, it was, in my opinion, definitely not the best. When I first started reading the novel, I wasn’t really sure on which direction Vowell was attempting to take this book. Even as I read a little further into the book her thesis was no clear to me. The lack of chapters in...
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