At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Thursday, May 13, 2004


Bremer, Francis J. John Winthrop: America’s Forgotten Founding Father. Oxford, $35.

Choice: “outstanding and readable…This first rate study will have a wide readership. Essential.” Library Journal: “impressive, scholarly analysis…Most Winthrop biographers have ignored the first 42 years of his life, but [not] Bremer…Draws on ten years of exhaustive research into original archives…surpasses the shorter versions…Highly recommended for all academic and larger public libraries.” Publishers Weekly: “adds tremendously to our understanding of this pivotal figure, eloquently reminding us in a rich, magisterial biography how much Winthrop contributed to the founding of the colonies…exhaustive detail…vividly recreates the religious and political reform movements in early 17th-century England…definitive.” First Things: “Bremer’s comprehensive biography of John Winthrop rests of prodigious research in both English and American sources and is a fitting climax to a productive academic career…The Winthrop of Bremer’s biography is not markedly different from the figure portrayed in Edmund Morgan’s landmark volume. Only we have more Winthrop here, more insight into the rock from which he was hewn, more reasons to admire his wisdom, and more opportunity to reflect on Puritanism at its best.”Chicago Review: “A formidable volume embodying much original research.”Kirkus: “Richly researched…overflows with information…One of Bremer’s great achievements is to add flesh to the previous, skeletal portraits of Winthrop’s life in England before he sailed west in 1630…Unfortunately, Bremer’s prose is not always commensurate with his sterling research. Each chapter begins with a superfluous ‘vignette’ that clutters rather than clarifies, the figurative language rarely strays from the conventional, and an epilogue offers mostly platitudes. Still, despite some stylistic flaws, this scholarly makeover adds considerable color to Winthrop’s wan cheeks.” William and Mary Quarterly: “rich and detailed. The research is thorough, the writing clear and at times even elegant…Some topics Bremer addresses in cursory fashion. He seems relatively uninterested in the roel of women in Winthrop’s life…Race seems similarly uninteresting to Bremer…Rather surprisingly, given Bremer’s own interest, religions’ treatment in these pages includes a number of odd gaffes. Despite these difficulties, the biography has much to recommend it.” Magill Book Reviews: “Nonspecialist readers are likely to find the book somewhat slow-paced and factually overburdened. Bremer enlivens his account, however, by prefacing each chapter with a vignette that imaginatively evokes a significant scene, replete with vivid sensory details, from his subject’s life.”


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