Reviews for John Winthrop, Oliver Cromwell, and the Land of Promise


Booklist Reviews 2004 June #1
Gr. 7-10. Aronson has many gifts: an ability to take historical events and render them as if they were unfolding before us; a cold eye for the prejudices of partisan contemporary accounts; the wit to untangle the knot of conflicting interpretations. His subject is seventeenth-century Britain and America, and he centers his narrative on John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the Puritan Oliver Cromwell, who deposed a king and became Lord Protector in England. Aronson is masterly at illuminating the reality of religious faith and the cataclysmic clash of beliefs that created fertile ground for ideas about democracy and equality. He doesn't downplay the demonization of Catholics in Britain or Pequots and other First Peoples in what would become America. The topic may not be a first choice for young people, but Aronson closes this interest gap by drawing parallels between the past and the present with the contemporary religious right, terrorism, and theocracy. The notes are a model of lucidity for any student wanting to find out more. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Fall
Picking up where [cf2]Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado[cf1] leaves off, this grand-scale narrative charts a parallel history between seventeenth-century Great Britain and colonial New England, as represented by emblematic figures Oliver Cromwell and John Winthrop. Aronson keeps the reader engaged with intriguing anecdotes and cogent analysis. Archival maps and images expand upon the demanding text. Timeline. Bib., ind. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2004 #4
Continuing the narrative begun in Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado (rev. 9/00), Aronson here charts a parallel history between seventeenth-century Great Britain and colonial New England, as represented by emblematic figures Oliver Cromwell and John Winthrop. Motivated by a shared religious belief that mankind was living "at the end of time," Winthrop led fellow Puritans to the New World, where he served as first governor of the Massachusetts colony, while Cromwell led an army through England's Civil War, deposed Charles I, and was appointed the nation's Lord Protector. The book presents convincing evidence that, quite remarkably, the harsh religious extremism of the seventeenth century ultimately led to the tolerance and social protections enjoyed by latter-day Americans. This grand-scale narrative has a diffuse focus (a "cast of characters" is helpfully included) and the prose is demanding, but Aronson keeps readers engaged with intriguing anecdotes and cogent analysis while making accessible connections between the past and present. Archival maps and images expand upon the text, while the extensive endnotes include website addresses where readers can view source documents. A timeline of global events from 1600 to 1776 and an index are also included. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2004 May #1
In the 17th century, Protestant zealots became leaders in England and New England, determined to lead the forces of God against the Antichrist. They tried to create heaven-on-earth societies of the godly, aggressively promoting conformity to their ways. Gradually, though, the realities of living in the real world of fallible, contentious human beings led to new political realities such as democracy, religious tolerance, and social equality. In this second of a trilogy beginning with Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado (2000), Aronson shows how events of the 1630s and '40s have affected political thought ever since, tracing the beginnings of secular democracy to the English Civil War. The text is dense and thorough in its analysis of such key players as Winthrop, Cromwell, Roger Williams, and Anne Hutchinson; the writing is clear and the documentation meticulous. Though allusions to contemporary novels, writers, and events are sometimes jarring, this is an important study of the origins of America as a land of promise. (cast of characters, endnotes, bibliography, timeline, index) (Nonfiction. 12+) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2004 November/December
In this look at the Cromwell era in Great Britain and the new American colonies, the author shows how events and ideas from this period have affected America's view of religious tolerance and democracy. Although the language is clear and unambiguous, the content is on a level intended more for a college history major than for those on a high school level. The bibliography is really footnotes with a great deal of commentary. Index. Not Recommended. Saundra Kilar, Library Media Specialist, South Lyon (Michigan) High School © 2004 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 May #4
A pair of books put historical events in the context of their time. Following Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, John Winthrop, Oliver Cromwell, and the Land of Promise by Marc Aronson describes the interactions of these two influential men. Winthrop, a Puritan, struggled to create a moderate settlement for religious worship in the New World, while Cromwell, who saw himself as "the agent of God," led the revolution against King Charles I. As with his previous books, Aronson often utilizes expressions or situations with which readers will be familiar to help them place historical events in context; for instance, he compares the British takeover of Native land to "a family secret no one wants to discuss but everyone knows is there," and links Winthrop's vision of America as a "Land of Promise" with that of Martin Luther King Jr.'s ideal of "the Promised Land." Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2004 September
Gr 7 Up-Continuing the trilogy he began in Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado (Clarion, 2000), Aronson points out startling similarities between 21st-century fanatical religious extremists and the zealous religious leaders who sought to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth nearly 400 years earlier. Focusing on the lives of two prominent Puritans, Cromwell in England and Winthrop in New England, the author takes the viewpoint that "we are the heirs of the radicals, not of the established government." He is fair and nonjudgmental in his clear, thorough explanations of the beliefs of the parties involved in the English Civil War and in the establishment of England's American colonies. Because this book is filled with a wealth of detailed historical information and unique analyses of philosophical issues, it will be challenging for readers without prior exposure to U.S. and British history. Sophisticated readers who come to it with a basic grounding in history and current events should find it fascinating and provocative. The author's extensive research is reflected in his multipaged endnotes and bibliography. The numerous illustrations include captioned reproductions of period maps, engravings, political cartoons, and drawings.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2004 October
This title is the second in the author's trilogy about the era of colonization of the New World. His previous book, Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado (Clarion, 2000/VOYA October 2000), took the reader through the evolution of England's impression of America as a fantastic Eden of gold and mystery to a place for settling and expanding the empire. This book explores the political climate and religious fervor of the seventeenth century that brought about that settlement as Puritans and others sought refuge from the embattled British Isles. John Winthrop was one such zealous Protestant. Driven by Biblical prophecy, he expected a land of great hope on the American shores, and although the initial hardships of the pioneers were unexpected, a new colony was incubated. Poor relations with their native neighbors, continued subjugation of women, and banishment for nonconformists, however, strained colonial relations. Meanwhile King Charles was losing political control as Oliver Cromwell sought to put an end to the monarchy. The turmoil on British soil went full circle, as the monarchy was lost and then reinstated when more of the persecuted, such as the Quakers, fled to America. This book provides a panoramic view of a period when ideas of democracy, social equality, and religious tolerance were evolving on the new continent. Intended for the middle school or high school reader, the accessible text is accompanied by excerpts from primary source documents and vivid illustrations. The author's passion for the period comes across in his writing. Aronson provides an excellent source for historical and biographical data.-Kevin Beach Index. Illus. Maps. Biblio. Chronology. 4Q 2P M J S Copyright 2004 Voya Reviews.

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