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The genuine article : a historian looks at early America /
Edmund S. Morgan.
New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2004.
xi, 315 p.
More Details
New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2004.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Edmund S. Morgan has been writing for the New York Review of Books for forty years. He received the National Humanities Medal in 2000. Sterling Professor Emeritus at Yale University, he lives in New Haven
BIH Author Biography
Edmund S. Morgan has been writing for the New York Review of Books for forty years. He received the National Humanities Medal in 2000. Sterling Professor Emeritus at Yale University, he lives in New Haven.
Flap Copy
"This book amounts to an intellectual autobiography.... These pieces are thus a statement of what I have thought about early Americans during nearly seventy years in their company," writes Edmund S. Morgan in his introduction to The Genuine Article, the title not only of this book but also of a remarkably insightful essay devoted to our country's first president, George Washington. While Morgan has chosen to describe Washington, a charismatic yet deeply enigmatic figure, as "the genuine article," the same term can easily be applied to Morgan himself, who has done more to shape the study of early American history than any historian since Perry Miller, whose career was tragically cut short in 1963. Assuming Miller's mantle, Morgan-through twenty books, including The Puritan Dilemma and American Slavery, American Freedom, and through over one hundred essays that first appeared in professional journals and the New York Review of Books-has literally refashioned our understanding of colonial and Revolutionary history. Here, in The Genuine Article, his first collection of essays in several decades, Morgan presents a rich and thrilling story that begins with the arrival of the first settlers in 1607 at the doomed Jamestown colony and ends as the Founding Fathers begin the arduous task of governing a formerly rebellious and often restless people. Divided into four sections on "New Englanders," "Southerners," "Revolutionaries," and "Questions of Culture," these twenty-four essays present an extraordinary thematic range-from "Those Sexy Puritans," an eye-opening account of the often bawdy sex lives of the Puritans, to "The Secrets of Benjamin Franklin," a model piece that would provide the framework for Morgan's best-selling biography, to an insightful essay on the divergent philosophies of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Of particular interest is Morgan's section on the American South. While Perry Miller was able by the end of his career to confer a respectability on the Puritans that they had previously never had, Morgan has had a similar influence in forcing his and successive generations of historians to analyze the corrosive effect of colonial slavery on the economic and social future of the nation. Morgan dissects, engages, and grapples with other historians over their own interpretations of early America, in some cases challenging them, in others lauding them-in all cases reanimating vanished worlds and illuminating the lives of early Americans. Viewed as a whole, The Genuine Article is a remarkable achievement.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2004-03-29:
Even in his 80s, Morgan continues to be one of the wisest and most eloquent interpreters of early American history. Because we have come to expect Morgan to provide deeply insightful and original readings of the American past, this new book at first disappoints, for it consists of review essays that first appeared in the New York Review of Books. On the other hand, the 24 essays represent a Morgan miscellany and function, he notes, as a kind of intellectual autobiography, tracing the development of his scholarly career. In the earliest of these essays, on Puritan New England, Morgan measures the value of various studies of Puritanism against the classic work of his mentor, Perry Miller. Later essays reveal the brilliance of Morgan's scholarship as he examines topics ranging from Puritanism and sex (sexual pleasure was an "entitlement" of marriage, for women as well as men), witch trials and slavery to the significance of the publication of the 24-volume American National Biography (in an essay co-written with his wife). In various essays, Morgan argues that John Winthrop was America's "first great man" because he, like Washington, Franklin and Lincoln, "pursued and accomplished radical ends by conservative means" and that George Washington was "the founding father" because of his pursuit of power by honorable means. Morgan's essay on Benjamin Franklin provides an outline of his acclaimed and bestselling 2002 biography. Morgan's elegant prose and critical acumen shine brightly and remind us how deep our debt is to his illuminating readings of early American history. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 2005-03-01:
Yale emeritus historian Morgan has written over a dozen history books ranging from seminal considerations of Puritanism to important biographies of American colonials, and has also been a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books for over 40 years, generally reviewing studies that deal with his areas of expertise. This volume is an edited reprinting of approximately two dozen of his Review essays, grouped into four categories dealing with New England, the colonial South, the American Revolution, and early US culture. These essays are far more, however, than simply book reviews of various important historical studies published since the early 1970s. They are instead cogent and sometimes erudite review essays that touch on a wide range of matters, including the nature of historiography, the historical method as intellectual expression, and the larger role that history plays in shaping our social consciousness. Morgan thus uses these essays to provide many useful insights into the practice of the historical craft. These essays have delighted two generations of Review readers, and this reprinted collection will undoubtedly do the same for those who encounter it. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. L. T. Cummins Austin College
Appeared in Library Journal on 2004-02-01:
A celebrated scholar and author of the best-selling Benjamin Franklin, Morgan calls this collection of essays on aspects of early America that have intrigued him "an intellectual autobiography." (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Library Journal, February 2004
Publishers Weekly, March 2004
Booklist, April 2004
Library Journal, June 2004
Los Angeles Times, June 2004
New York Times Book Review, June 2004
San Francisco Chronicle, June 2004
San Francisco Chronicle, December 2004
Choice, March 2005
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Unpaid Annotation
Dividing his work into 24 essays with sections on "New Englanders," "Southerners," and "Revolutionaries," Morgan examines the history of the American colonies from the arrival of the first settlers in 1607 to the radical changes brought forth by the American Revolution.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. IX
New Englandersp. 1
America's First Great Manp. 5
Heaven Can't Waitp. 15
Those Sexy Puritansp. 22
The Chosen Peoplep. 31
Subject Womenp. 40
Witch-Huntingp. 54
Bewitchedp. 61
Southernersp. 71
Our Townp. 75
The Fall of the Gentryp. 83
The Big American Crimep. 90
Plantation Bluesp. 108
The Price of Honorp. 122
Revolutionariesp. 133
How the French Lost Americap. 137
A Loyal Un-Americanp. 147
The Oedipal Revolutionp. 156
Secrets of Benjamin Franklinp. 163
Don't Tread On Usp. 185
The Fixersp. 197
The Great Political Fictionp. 207
Power to the People?p. 225
The Second American Revolutionp. 236
The Genuine Articlep. 248
Questions of Culturep. 261
Persuading the Persuadedp. 265
Who's Really Who (with Marie Morgan)p. 275
Notesp. 295
Indexp. 301
Table of Contents provided by Rittenhouse. All Rights Reserved.

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