Friday, July 6, 2012

The Providence of God Upon America

Welcome, friends and fellow bibliophiles, to the final post on Independence week. I shall be sharing today a review of the best books I have found on the history of America, and the treasures I found at the book sale on Friday. But business first, and pleasure afterwards. The results of the book sale shall come at the end of the post. Don't peek! :)

Book Review
Light and the Glory, The: 1492-1793 (God's Plan for America)If you are looking for a Providential perspective on the history of America, then I would highly recommend Peter Marshall and David Manuel's The Light and the Glory for a comprehensive Christian view on the founding of America up to the Revolutionary War. Their enlightening quotes, stellar commentary, and careful reasearch combine to give an eye-opening view of God's providence throughout our country's founding.
Peter Marshall, son of the well-known authoress Catherine Marshall, set out on a mission to see if he could find God's hand of blessing upon our country's heritage. He teamed up with author David Manuel, and the story of how they found each other and the facts they sought is quite interesting. Their journey turned into a three book series, The Light and the Glory, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Sounding Forth the Trumpet. I have read and can recommend the first two, which take the reader up to the start of the Civil War, but I have not yet had the opportunity to read the third one. Today's review encompasses only From Sea to Shining Sea, as this is most pertinent to our week of celebration.
The book starts with Columbus's discovery of the North American continent, and the fact that his original focus was evangelizing the natives there. That focus changed, and the spreading of the Gospel then passed to the monks of Spain--also to evangelists from France, travelling over deserts and rivers to establish missions among the natives.  Abundant natural resources, especially gold, drew young adventurers from France, Spain, and England; these countries began to charter colonies and transport Europeans to populate key areas. The history of Jamestown, Roanoke, and the Pilgrims, with original quotes from men in the British East India Company and other settlers, as well as William Bradford's work Plymouth Plantation, give a clear picture of their dedication to spreading God's Word, and the consequences upon those who failed to do so. Then Marshall and Manuel swing by the Puritans; their reluctance to leave London, and the incentives that convinced them to do so. After the Puritans comes the influence of the Quakers (a surprisingly rowdy bunch at that time) which dovetails into the Great Awakening, and our tension with Great Britain. The history of the war brings us up to a final conclusion with the framing of our Constitution, and the end of Washington's presidency.

My Thoughts
Marshall and Manuel do an excellent job of emphasizing a principle God told the Israelites again and again: "Obey my commands, and I will bless you. Disobey, and I will curse you." Not all of our history in this particular timespan is a stellar one--even with the Pilgrims and Puritans. But The Light and the Glory shows a birds-eye view of God's patience, His Providence, and His Hand upon America. In spite of our imperfections, He reigns supreme, and He is gracious enough to grant us time to turn to Him.
The only warning I would give is that Marshall and Manuel do include profanity if it's in the historical accounts. I think they could have easily used "[expletive deleted]" instead and still preserved the accuracy of the text.
New readers will want to be aware that they go into detail on the Salem Witch Trials, and other instances of rebellion in the church where the members involved themselves with demonic influence. Though they are careful with the information they provide, there are a couple of gruesome portions regarding a woman and her baby that you may wish to avoid. Beyond this, nothing comes to mind, but do use your own discretion of course.
By far, the best knowledge I came away with is the history of the Puritans. Their works, their struggles with whether to stay in England or flee to America, and their final casting off of all ties that held them back, is an important point in history to remember as we face similar circumstances. Their dedication to following the Lord's leading was challenging and inspiring.

I highly recommend The Light and the Glory to anyone who wishes to know more about America--from a "politically incorrect" perspective.

Results of the Book Sale
And now, of course, I will share what I found on the 4th of July. It was a good day for a bibliophile. :) I shall share them in the order in which I found them, as closely as I can recall. Please note that while I endeavored to choose with discretion, I have not read any of the following books, and cannot therefore give them an unconditional recommendation.

1. The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens--Dickens' last and unfinished work was a mystery novel regarding the murder of one Edwin Drood. When I read it, I shall of course offer my own convictions regarding "whodunnit"--or whether they did it at all. It's been confusing scholars for decades, and I have read detailed arguments in various hypotheses. I wonder which mine shall agree with most...

2. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien--The core of Tolkien's Middle Earth in a nice hardbound edition, complete with a pull-out map of the various regions mentioned.

3. Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens--The one book I came to the booksale hoping to find. Ecstasy! His last completed novel.

4. The Travels of Marco Polo--He wrote an account of his travels to the Middle East while he was in prison, and I have heard speakers refer to his accounts of seeing dragons (possibly dinosaurs?) so I am intrigued to learn more. Includes a pull-out map of the Far East marking the routes of various explorers. Nice little hardbound.

5. Carpathian Castle, by Jules Verne--I had never heard of this one, but look forward to new scientific hypotheses amidst Verne's typical adventure. It looks a bit Gothic, and I do suspect it's a tragedy, so I'll have to see if it turns out as good as his other books have.

6. Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope--I had so much fun with The Way We Live Now, and have heard excellent things of Barchester Towers. I look forward to exploring further Trollope and his satire on the Church of England.

7. American Practical Navigator, by Nathaniel Bowditch--found this in the collector's section, and it would have knocked my socks off if I had worn any. For those of you who love Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, you may be interested to take a peek at Bowditch's book, which is still carried on every U.S. Navy ship. It was originally published in 1802, and while I have a later edition, it's still pretty exciting to see 1,500 pages of star charts, navigation definitions, and tables of natural trigonometric functions. (Not sure exactly what they mean...) This, for me was the most exciting find. :)

I hope you all enjoyed a little slice of America's Independence Day this week. I am praising the Lord both for all the good book finds, and the history of our nation. Next week, I've planned an exciting review on the up-and-coming homeschool author Rachel Coker, and I also hope to delve into the knotty issue of Christian freedom for the bibliophile. Until then, I wish you a weekend of fruitful reading.

Blessings,
Lady Bibliophile

8 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading "The Light and the Glory". I picked up a copy years ago at a seconds book table and it was the first book the Lord used to open my eyes on the vital importance of knowing our history. I had always enjoyed history in school, but I went through the public school system and that curriculum left a lot of things out! Before my "reawakening" I had more of a secularist view, so I'm really thankful that the Lord got a hold of my heart and thinking before I began to teach my own children history.

    I think Lady B will remember this--we used this book as one of the reading books for our American History class.

    I also attended that particular book sale with Lady B and had a good, warm (!) time there. The American Practical Navigator really is a fascinating book and a great legacy of Nathaniel Bowditch. When Lady B took her book to be purchased, the lady looked at the book and then looked at her and inquired as to what made her choose that one. Lady B kind of got the same reaction from other family members later on that afternoon. Sometimes as a bibliophile, you travel the road alone:). We think it's neat, though!!

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    1. That was a glorious time of studying American history. I loved that particular class, and still remember the extensive chapter summaries. My teacher instructed me to pare them down a bit. ;) This is one of the best books that anyone could use to teach their children history; I'm so glad you were willing to step outside the textbook and use this instead.

      Love,
      Schuyler

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  2. Dear Lady B,
    That was a fun book sale! The only thing I got was a calander. :)
    Wonderful post! I look forward to reading the book!
    Love, Sister

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    1. You will really enjoy this book and thier focus on evangelism, Sister. You did a good job handing out bookmarks at the sale, and though you didn't come away with any books, the calendar was really cute. Maybe I can help you find some books next year. :)

      Love and cuddles,
      Sister

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  3. Lady Bibliophile,
    What year was your "American Practical Navigator" printed? Is it an old version, or a more recent copy? I hope you get time to read the Silmarillion, I'm just reading it and I've enjoyed it so far.
    I haven't read any of the American history books yet, they're on our shelf though, so maybe I should soon.
    SH ;)

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    1. Dear S.H. ;)
      My American Practical Navigator is not very old; it is the 1966 edition, with added photographs and updated generally. However, I found a piece of information concerning its history that may add to its value. At first, I thought there was a name and address in the top left-hand corner of the front cover. But upon examining it more closely this afternoon, I found that it was in fact a signature and the name of the U.S. Navy Ship that carried it. My particular book was carried on the USS Whipple. The Whipple has travelled to Hawaii and Hong Kong, rescued 410 Vietnamese refugees, and seen action in the Vietnam War. It received two stars for its war service, and the Combat Action Ribbon. It was originally a destroyer, and was later turned to a frigate around 1975. Since my Practical Navigator was published in 1966, and the Whipple was launched in 1968, they probably procured the most up-and-coming edition available at the time. Therefore, it is highly possible that my book has been to Hawaii and Hong Kong, and seen action in the Vietnam War. Though I can't be sure, I like to think it the case. :)

      You can find more about the Whipple at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Whipple_(FF-1062)

      I have yet to identify the signature above the ship's name. It's mostly a scrawl. Pretty exciting, though, if you ask me. :)

      Blessings,
      Schuyler

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  4. I've never actually read The Light and the Glory cover to cover, but I've often used it as a reference book. It is an excellent book! (Love the way it explodes Roger Williams).

    What great finds at the booksale! I loved Carry On, Mr Bowditch. I've never heard of Carpathian Castle, but the title sounds perfect.

    Enjoy the Sil!

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    1. Ah, yes. I remember Roger Williams. :) He was the person so "pure" that none of his congregation could take communion with him, except his wife. Eventually she, too, was found lacking. Strange man...

      Carpathian Castle would be a perfect vintage book to review! The only thing that irks me about this particular edition is the packaging, which compares him to Dracula and sinks him generally to the level of retro sci-fi television shows. But however poorly wrapped, they can't change Verne's brilliance in the actual contents. :) Funny, I thought I knew most of his works, and I had never even heard of this one.

      I am looking forward to Sil! I plan to do a review when I am finished with it, which I'm hoping will happen sometime this summer. Am swamped with urgent reading at the moment, and desperately trying to keep my head above water. ;)The happy dilemma of drowing in books...

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