From Publishers Weekly
By the end of reading this hefty volume, one comes away with the thought that Mapp sees only one really "creative secret"Athat tradition mixed with invigorating contemporary exploration is a particularly fertile combination. True, Mapp also occasionally touches on the influence of the middle class, on individual potential, on the rewards of a more generalized study and on nationalism, but these elements receive far less attention. One could make this point in a much smaller book; Mapp's account is padded with basic history about each period. Lengthy accounts of Savonarola or Walter Raleigh are only tangentially relevant to his thesis. As Mapp (Thomas Jefferson: Passionate Pilgrim) is a scholar of colonial and revolutionary America, his emphasis on what he knows best is understandable, but well over half the book concentrates on fairly well known history, culture and personages of 17th- and 18th-century America. Perhaps Mapp would argue that the lengthy treatment of Virginia's or Massachusetts's early history is crucial for understanding the Founding Fathers, but what do Bacon's Rebellion or Anne Hutchinson have to do with the theme of creativity? And why focus on Virginia and Massachusetts, when Pennsylvania contributed at least as many great minds to America's history? Mapp is a good writer, and an accessible one, but it's hard to place his readership. For sophisticated students of history, his text will seem basic; for novices, it will seem both long and rambling.
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