The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell


The Wordy Shipmates

Author: Sarah Vowell

Title: The Wordy Shipmates

Genre: Non-Fiction Audiobook / History

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages/CDs: 6 discs (7 hours)

Geographical Setting: New England

Time Period: 17th Century

Series (If applicable): none

Plot Summary: Frequent NPR contributor Sarah Vowell leads the reader through the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony by English Puritans and how those settlers views and actions color American politics to this day. While the Pilgrims continue to be celebrated yearly, this slightly-later group of settlers are unfamiliar to most. Vowell recognizes that many Americans learn history via pop culture, herself included, and uses popular points of reference and her own experiences to keep the narrative moving along and palatable to those who might otherwise shun a straightforward historical account.

Subject Headings: American history, Puritans, 17th Century, Religion, Politics, Boston, New England, Rhode Island

Appeal: Compelling, candid, contemplative, humorous, thoughtful, detailed, engaging, vivid, well-drawn, complex, issue-oriented, layered, resolved ending, thought-provoking, accurate, details of early America, historical details, political, accessible, chatty, informative, natural, smart, unpretentious, well-crafted, well-researched, witty

3 terms that best describe this book: informative, accessible, witty

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach.

Accessibly written look at how humans cope in space (without air, gravity, showers or beer). Seemingly academic subject, thoroughly researched, but shared in humorous, readable language with personal anecdotes.

Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages by Dr. Guy Deutscher.

An exploration of the idea that language shapes cultures and influences the thoughts of its speakers, concepts often avoided by linguists. Intellectual discovery shared in an enjoyable manner and illustrative of how societies can be continually influenced by the past.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson.

Witty and engaging, if sometimes rambling, Bryson delivers history via the elements of a home. Popular narrative nonfiction that seeks to both educate and entertain.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby.

Rich characters and witty writing combine to make depressing, weighty topics a fun read. (Sarah Vowell has written the introduction to another Hornby book, so she’s clearly a fan, too.)

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin.

Comedy delivered with a droll voice, and most readers will come away having learned a bit about the art world, to boot.

Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse.

A classic humor collection which revels in clever turns of phrase and expert comic timing. While somewhat analogous to TV sitcoms, this 1925 book continues to attract fans of intelligent wit.

Name: Genevieve Grove


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