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The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: with Related Documents (Bedford Series in History & Culture) [Paperback]

Mary Rowlandson , Neal Salisbury
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 15, 1997 0312111517 978-0312111519 First Edition
Mary Rowlandson's The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, first published in 1682, is an English Puritan woman's account of her captivity among Native Americans during Metacom's War (1675-76) in southeastern New England. In this volume, 17 related documents support Rowlandson's text, which is reprinted from the earliest surviving edition of the narrative.

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Editorial Reviews


"This edition of The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, with documents provided and the editor’s very fine introduction, will at long last give scholars and teachers a version of the text equal to its historical and literary importance."
— Barry O’Connell, Amherst College

About the Author

Neal Salisbury (Ph. D., University of California, Los Angeles) is a professor of history at Smith College and specializes in the history of American Indians and colonial New England. He is author of Manitou and Providence: Indians, Europeans, and the Making of New England, 1500-1643 (1982) and The Indians of New England: A Critical Bibliography (1982) and is coauthor of The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People (1990). His most recent article, "The Indians' Old World: Native Americans and the Coming of Europeans," appeared in the July 1996 issue of the William and Mary Quarterly.

Product Details

  • Series: Bedford Series in History & Culture
  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's; First Edition edition (February 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312111517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312111519
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating historic document September 29, 2001
"The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, Together with the Faithfulness of His Promises Displayed," by Mary Rowlandson, is a compelling piece of colonial American literature. First published in 1682, this autobiographical text represents a genre of literature known as the "captivity narrative": a first-person account of a white settler who was held as a hostage or prisoner by Native Americans. In Rowlandson's case, she was taken captive during Metacom's War (also known as King Philip's War), which took place in 1675-1676.
The edition of Rowlandson's book edited by Neal Salisbury is excellent. This edition contains Rowlandson's text, together with a wealth of other materials: a thorough introduction, many maps, a chronology, a bibliography, and other historic documents from Rowlandson's era. The many illustrations include photographs of the title pages of earlier editions.
Rowlandson's captivity narrative is a significant milestone in American literature; the introduction to the Salisbury edition notes that the text "has been almost continually in print since 1770." Since the text itself is relatively short, it has appeared in anthologies (see, for example, "The Harper Single Volume American Literature," third edition). But the many "extras" in the Salisbury edition definitely make it a book worth buying, even if you have an anthology already containing the Rowlandson text.
Rowlandson's memoir itself is not great literature stylistically. But it is a fascinating text with some really striking passages. Rowlandson's extreme evangelical Puritanism will likely alienate or bewilder some modern readers, but her religious attitude should be read in historic and cultural context.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great history and great literature, too February 11, 2002
Interestingly enough, I read this for a course on early American literature. But as a history major, I can say that it would have served equally well in a course on, say, Colonial New England or Social Life in Colonial America. It provides fascinating insights into Puritan life--especially into its religious beliefs and practices and the huge role they played in the life of a Puritan. Moreover, it chronicles the contact of two societies at odds: Puritans and Native Americans. Rowlandson's descriptions of her captors are exceedingly interesting and give depth to any consideration of life in early America. Salisbury's notes and introduction are also quite helpful. Read as a piece of literature, moreover, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God proves to be a fruitful topic for study, as well as a great complement to its function as an historical document. Considering my English course included some rather unsavory texts, this one was much appreciated and quite refreshing, too.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I put this book in the context of the time June 12, 2009
I decided to read this book after having read "Mayflower". It was apparently the first American bestseller and was popular in Britain also at the time. I was curious about how she was treated by the Indians. It certainly showed these Indians as ordinary people - which I should have expected. It did say something about these aborigines that they didn't rape her as so many other peoples would have done - spoils of war and all that. On the overall I found that the Indians treated her civilly. Of course the Indians had trouble finding food just as she did have obtaining food and they were trying to brave the attacks of her people all the time. The King Philip War was a tragedy. The Indians had been treated badly by the English (so what's new?)and in my estimation from what I read King Philip was not a jingoist like Moseley. Indeed I felt he was by nature a peaceful person like his father. I was shocked that the Mohawks sided against him. Well, war is hell and friends often turn into enemies for who knows what reason. At any rate, in conclusion, I felt that this is an important document and her religiosity was normal for the time, a time when John Hoar (a good guy) was thrown in jail for not attending church! I don't think you can appreciate this book using today's morals and behavior as the criterion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Captured by Indians - Preserved by God December 5, 2012
An important piece of Early American literature, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God is a true, first-person narrative account of a 17th century Puritan woman whose village was attacked by Indians in 1676. Mary Rowlandson's family was massacred, and she and three of her children were taken captive. Of the 37 in her household, 24 were captured and 12 killed, with only one escaping. Her two older children, ages 10 and 12, were separated from Mary and her six-year-old child, who died nine days later.

The Introduction in this publication, written by Neil Salisbury, is very helpful in giving the background and setting of this incident. Salisbury describes the relationship between the local native Indians and the English colonists of Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut which existed for 30-40 years. He also explains the issues and events which contributed to the building tension and eventual conflicts that took place.

The opening scene is very dramatic and graphic -- barbaric, chaotic, and hellish. Throughout the account various epithets are used to describe the Indians: hell-hounds, ravenous beasts, barbarous creatures, murderous wretches, merciless heathen, and wolves. Some people may object to this as offensive and even racist, but I believe it is ignorant of readers to say this is a racist account. The writer speaks with emotion while describing her personal feelings and actual experiences as a witness of the horrific scene that takes place before her eyes. She then spends about three months with the Indians before being returned, during which time she is in genuine fear for her life and doing what she can to survive.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Rowlandson's King Philip's War captivity text -- plus excellent...
I was pleased to obtain the complete text of Mary Rowlandson's narrative of her captivity experiences. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Olga
2.0 out of 5 stars Crazy Puritans
The book is an account of Mary Rowlandson, who was captured by indians during Metacom's War. It has some Old English texts, and Mary makes PLENTY of references to biblical verses. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Larry L Smallwood
3.0 out of 5 stars History
Wont read it again!! I really disliked it. Not my cup of tea but for a history fanatic, go for it!
Published 6 months ago by Karina
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
I bought this book for one of my classes. It's a good read, I actually enjoyed the book. I would definitely recommend this book.
Published 8 months ago by Paige
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hallowed Story of Captivity
Mrs. Rawlandson was the wife of a Puritan Minister in Lancaster, Massachusetts. While her husband is in Boston attempting to get support for the town during King Philip's War, the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Carl Robinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
Classic book that really grasps the American thought process during the colonial American period and the journey of horror and enlightenment.
Published 12 months ago by Sean Campbell
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical Quality
I lived in the area where Mary Rowlandson was abducted and I now live in the area where her daughter died while she was held captive. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Angelica
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book written by my husbands 10th Great Grandmother
Great Book written by my husbands 10th Great Grandmother
Print is very small so get out your reading glasses! Great Book! Great part of our history!
Published 14 months ago by Rhonda Ottem
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Read
This small book is well worth the read. It's easy to grasp the depth of Mary Rowlandson's Christian faith and trust in God. Read more
Published 22 months ago by A Christian Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars good
although its not very new, id doesn't lose any page. And it looks like a new book. So anm very satisfied with it.
Published 22 months ago by Arki
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