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A Rabble in Arms: Massachusetts Towns and Militiamen during King Philip's War (Warfare and Culture)

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ISBN-13: 978-0814797341
ISBN-10: 0814797342
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Zelner provides a valuable corrective to longstanding assumptions and misunderstandings about the English soldiery in King Philip’s War while shedding new light on the powers and values of the elites of the town militia committees….[He] has fundamentally altered the discussion.”
-New England Quarterly



“Zelner has done meticulous research on the social composition of the Essex men who went to war in 1675-76. He has done a model job of mining sources to show the complexity of social and economic forces at work in raising military expeditions in Essex County.”

-The Journal of Military History

“Zelner’s meticulously researched A Rabble in Arms provides an important corrective to an accepted narrative about democratic egalitarianism in New England towns. Indeed, Zelner’s findings on the social composition of armed forces, rural democracy and localism in colonial New England correspond with modern works on popular and political culture in early-modern England, as well as Revolutionary and early-national America.”

-Guy Chet,author of Conquering the American Wilderness

“A carefully researched account of how and why certain men from Essex County, MA, were chosen to fight in King Philip’s War.”
-Choice



“Rock-solid research, cleanly presented, answers for one corner of early New England the timeless question: Who serves, fights, and dies? For all the scholarly attention lavished on that part of American history, Zelner is the first to discover the truth.”
-John Shy,author of A People Numerous and Armed

About the Author

Kyle F. Zelner is Associate Professor of History and a Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Southern Mississippi.

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Product Details

  • Series: Warfare and Culture
  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (November 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814797342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814797341
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #837,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kyle Zelner, Ph.D. (William & Mary, 2003) teaches courses in the history of colonial and Revolutionary America, early American war and society, and history methods and writing at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, in addition to being a Co-Director of the Dale Center for the Study of War & Society. He is also the Chair of the History Department.

Zelner's book "A Rabble in Arms: Massachusetts Towns and Militiamen during King Philip's War" was published in 2009 as the inaugural volume in a new series Warfare and Culture by New York University Press. The study examines the social background of impressed soldiers during King Philip's War and the government system which impressed them; he argues that the conventional wisdom about a broadly democratic militia in seventeenth century colonial America is largely false. The book has received favorable reviews in the "Journal of American History," the "Journal of Military History," the "New England Quarterly," the "Journal of America's Military Past," "Choice," and on H-War. Zelner has presented his research at number of professional conferences, including meetings of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, the Society of Military History, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Watchman Center, the Great Lakes Historical Society, and the American Historical Association, as well as speaking at the International Historical Miniature Gaming Society's War College in 2010. His other publications include an article in the "New England Quarterly"; contributions to the "Encyclopedia of North American Colonial American Warfare to 1775," the "Encyclopedia of American War Literature," and the "Encyclopedia of U.S. Military History"; and book reviews for the "New England Quarterly," "The Journal of Southern History," and the "Journal of Military History." He is currently working on an article about Captain Samuel Mosley, a then-(in)famous and now all-but-forgotten officer in seventeenth-century New England.

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A. MILNE-SMITH on May 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Zelner's text proves that the old values of social history, combined with new perspectives on war and society, can produce important new additions to the historical landscape. The impressive leg-work that must have gone into the production of this book certainly pay off in its results. The assumption of the democratic status of the early American militia, and society more generally, is proven false. The society Zelner portrays is far more complex; at times petty, at times genuinely conflicted, the tragedy of war and the choices it forces communities to make are vividly described. This book would be a welcome addition to any historian of war and society, early America, or social history. Zelner should be particularly applauded for his contextualization of the American experience in its English (and colonial) context. An impressive display of scholarship in a genuinely readable format.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Lynn on November 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A RABBLE IN ARMS: MASSACHUSETTS TOWNS AND MILITIAMEN DURING KING PHILIP'S WAR
Kyle F. Zelner
New York University Press, 2009
Hardcover, $50.00, 325 Pages, Illustrations, Maps, Appendices, Tables, Bibliography, Notes

The militia in the English colonies evolved from the ancient Anglo-Saxon fyrd, which was based on the obligation of every member of society to participate in the common defense. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, the military responsibilities of the militia, as the Latinized fyrd was called, gradually dwindled as medieval monarchs relied more and more on mercenaries and a hereditary warrior class to fight their wars. By 1600, the English militia was essentially moribund. Only a fraction of the middle and upper classes were enrolled; training was infrequent and ineffective; and weapons were scarce and often obsolete. The peculiar nature of the English colonial experience in North America led to a revival of the militia in the New World. Because the early English colonies were under-capitalized commercial enterprises rather than government projects, the colonists couldn't rely on royal military forces or expensive mercenaries for protection. As no one else would defend them, they had to defend themselves. The initial landing parties in Chesapeake Bay and New England usually included veterans of the wars in Ireland or the Netherlands, such as John Smith and Miles Standish. Their responsibility was to train the rest of the colonists in the military arts and provide military leadership in times of crisis. As the years passed and the early colonies became established, these ad hoc military arrangements were formalized by law and custom into English-style militias.
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By Kevin Conroy on August 31, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fascinating work. I live in eastern Massachusetts. I'm a veteran too. I am interested in local history. It's interesting that the influential back then took steps to protect their kids. I guess things really don't change.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By liberty man on January 21, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great for New England History buffs and genealogists concerned with Essex Cty Mass families. My wife found numerous relatives mentioned.
The powerless and expendable seem to have been impressed for King Philips War.It was a near run thing.The Indians were formidable fighters.I liked it a lot.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Just McGov on May 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Names, Places, in our history. If you have family from Massachusetts or delight in learning about this countries early history in a personal way, this is the book for you!
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