THE TRANSFORMATION OF EARLY AMERICAN HISTORY by James A. Henretta

THE TRANSFORMATION OF EARLY AMERICAN HISTORY

Society, Authority, and Ideology
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A collection of essays about the colonial period of American history, written and edited by former graduate students--now professors themselves--of Harvard Univ. historian and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Bernard Bailyn (Faces of Revolution, 1990, etc.) The opening essays--by Kammen, Katz, Gordon Wood, and Jack Rakove--pay affectionate tribute to Bailyn as scholar and as an influential if enigmatic classroom mentor. ``He has in fact,'' writes Wood, ``redrawn whole sections of the map of our historical knowledge of early American history and has greatly broadened and deepened our understanding of America's colonial past--generating by himself schools of scholarship.'' The remaining eight essays attempt, with varying degrees of success, to explore the issues of cultural transmission that have obsessed Bailyn. Philip Greven contributes a haunting analysis of how the memory of child abuse affected the poetry and theological thinking of Puritan minister Michael Wigglesworth. Mary Beth Norton offers one of the better products of local and women's history: a subtle examination of the different ways men and women were treated by law in 17th-century Maryland. David Thomas Konig's essay on the use of common law in colonizing Ireland and Virginia is also illuminating, as are essays by Michael Zuckerman and Pauline Maier. However, other pieces by Richard Buel, Henretta, and Richard L. Bushman sometimes bog down in historiographical argument. While often probing, this series of essays on little-known yet important aspects of early American life could sometimes use the literary sparkle and comprehensive sweep that Bailyn himself has invariably brought to his work.

Pub Date: June 6th, 1991
ISBN: 0-394-58147-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991




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