"Many historians of Revolutionary America have plundered the diaries of Philip Vickers Fithian, but until now no one has satisfactorily told the life story of this great diarist. John Fea's insightful book does just that—and yet more. By showing how Fithian pursued the values of a cosmopolitan Enlightenment, in concert with the values of Presbyterian Christianity and American patriotism, his study reveals much about an enduring American tradition."—Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame
"John Fea has given readers . . . a gift in this delightful biography of diarist Philip Fithian. . . . Fea has captured a multifaceted world that teachers of American history should rush to share with their students."—Dallett Hemphill, author of Bowing to Necessities: A History of Manners in America
"In this absorbing and elegantly written biography, John Fea . . . shows how seismic philosophical upheavals profoundly shaped the life of an ordinary man far from the epicenter. Perhaps Fea's signal contribution is his nuanced reading of the relationship between the Enlightenment and Christianity."—Books & Culture
"A wonderfully teachable volume in undergraduate classrooms. However, it is also a book for specialists . . . for its simultaneously clear and complex explanation of the social an intellectual climate of middling participants in the American Revolution."—Journal of the Early Republic
It is a quick and engaging read strengthened by a compelling narrative and clear writing style.
In "The Way of Improvement," Fithian emerges from the pages as an American to glean much from, a spirited figure who valiantly balances self-improvement and "home".
Fea's brilliant book will be my recommendation for better understanding the Enlightenment's impact on early American history.
In "The Way of Improvement Leads Home," Dr. John Fea does a spectacular job in chronicling the life of an interesting and overlooked figure in early American history. Read morePublished on June 22, 2010 by T. J. Carlson
When we first picked up "The Way of Improvement Leads Home" we expected a straight forward biography about Philip Vickers Fithian. However, in the introduction, Dr. Fea says "... Read morePublished on June 6, 2010 by Adina T. Johnson
Soon, I will be teaching a one year history class to a group of men. The class incorporates my reading, research, reflection, and writing from the past twenty years. Read morePublished on January 28, 2010 by David George Moore