In a full-bodied, rigorous history Soderlind shows how Connecticut grew out of an assortment of loosely related towns--most of them founded by strong, autocratic religious leaders for whom the Bay Colony was too confining--and evolved into the Land of Steady Habits, one of the most populated colonies and at the same time one of the most insular. The narrative touches all bases, beginning with the original Algonkian inhabitants and balancing dramatic high points, such as the Charter Oak legend, with social history. (There's a particularly strong chapter on early newspapers.) But Soderlind is chiefly concerned with larger trends--the divisions caused by the Great Awakening and later, the regional split between Tory and Patriot. The result is a more substantial history than Alderman's Colony of Connecticut (1975), although the latter's stress on the less dour side of Puritan life still makes an interesting complement to Soderlind's emphasis on the pressures to conformity.