'The Puritan's Puritan'
Hub Blog received an advance copy of Edmund S. Morgan's new book 'American Heroes: Profiles of Men and Women Who Shaped Early America.'
For Massachusetts history buffs, it's a great read, with chapters on 'John Winthrop's Vision,' 'The Puritans and Sex,' 'The Problems of a Puritan Heiress' (someone really ought to make a movie about Anna Keayne's crazy marital life) and 'The Case Against Anne Hutchinson.' The best part of the book is that Morgan
-- the amazing 93-year-old historian, Belmont native and Pulitzer-Prize winner -- is a natural debunker of debunkers' debunking of myths. His portrayal of the Puritans is respectful without slipping into either excuse making or 'cartoonish' popular caricatures. His delicate balancing act is on display in the first lines of the chapter 'The Puritan's Puritan: Michael Wigglesworth':
Historians have long since discovered that the Puritans were much more human than we had once supposed. They ate and drank and fought and loved and even occasionally laughed a little. Perhaps, then, they were (like us) hearty, warmhearted creatures after all. Perhaps. When we begin to think of the Puritans this way, we sooner or later have to reckon with a man like Michael Wigglesworth.
Just the name 'Michael Wigglesworth' makes you chuckle -- and then Morgan is off and running. The book -- really a compilation of easy-to-read essays, some written in the 1930s and '40s -- gets a big and coveted thumbs up from Hub Blog.