I had this book recommended to me twice and was pleasantly surprised to realize that this is a serious, well-researched scholarly monograph. The subject is how certain immigration patterns in the early part of United States history shaped our developing nation. The author is very detailed and traces patterns from old to new world in four different areas: Puritan Massachusetts, the Chesapeake, Quaker Delaware Valley, and the American Back-country via a multitude of cultural patterns. He describes the differences and then demonstrates how these cultures and their clashes shaped U.S. history.
I consider this an absolute must for anyone slightly interested in U.S. history. I am learning more and more that we have to understand the cultural background (and this includes the worldview that shapes the culture) in order to understand the people and events that spring from culture. In college I noticed that in both history and literature classes some people cannot or will not understand that people thought in completely different ways in different times (and this is true for different places; we are seeing this in Europe's issues with migrant assimilation . . . and criticism of U.S. gun laws). People automatically assume that anything religious or spiritual is subservient to science and reasoning, and they don't or won't understand the difference in value systems or the difference between blind trust in scientists and fallacious reasoning. We must understand limitations of science and reason within the academic scope of the scientific method, critical thinking, and logic; blind trust in the vague category of "science" is as stupid as supernatural superstition.
This book explains the worldviews in as unbiased a manner as I have ever come across. He does not pass judgment with adjectives overly often even though many activities and attitudes are condemned now; he explains how these people arrived at their ideas and how these ideas shaped their culture.
I would advise you to read it thus: the preface and introduction first, then the conclusion up to page 808 and take a look at the charts on pages 813-815, and then go and start with part 1 and read through to end.
Although the book is scholarly, I found the writing style to be quite readable. And even if you aren't planning any particular historical use when reading this book, the book has fascinating stand alone information. I found the speech ways section particularly interesting, especially as I feel that my speech ways have been influenced by multiple areas.
Labels: Book Reviews, History