- Series: America: a cultural history
- Paperback: 972 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 14, 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195069056
- ISBN-13: 978-0195069051
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 2 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 270 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: a cultural history) 1st Edition
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From Library Journal
This cultural history explains the European settlement of the United States as voluntary migrations from four English cultural centers. Families of zealous, literate Puritan yeomen and artisans from urbanized East Anglia established a religious community in Massachusetts (1629-40); royalist cavaliers headed by Sir William Berkeley and young, male indentured servants from the south and west of England built a highly stratified agrarian way of life in Virginia (1640-70); egalitarian Quakers of modest social standing from the North Midlands resettled in the Delaware Valley and promoted a social pluralism (1675-1715); and, in by far the largest migration (1717-75), poor borderland families of English, Scots, and Irish fled a violent environment to seek a better life in a similarly uncertain American backcountry. These four cultures, reflected in regional patterns of language, architecture, literacy, dress, sport, social structure, religious beliefs, and familial ways, persisted in the American settlements. The final chapter shows the significance of these regional cultures for American history up to the present. Insightful, fresh, interesting, and well-written, this synthesis of traditional and more current historical scholarship provides a model for interpretations of the American character. Subsequent volumes of this promised multivolume work will be eagerly awaited. Highly recommended for the general reader and the scholar.
- David Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Professor Fischer's careful research and analysis opens a much needed discussion of cultural character and origins in North America. The variety and complexity of historical sources will inform the work of other cultural historians and analysts."--Nadesan Permaul, UC Berkeley
"This is history at a lively pace, peppered with curious details about the origins of families...The author makes a convincing case."--Dolores and Roger Flaherty, Chicago Sun-Times
"A pleasure to read, for it is written with Fischer's characteristic perspicuity. Moreover, the numerous drawings by Jennifer Brody and maps by Andrew Mudryk are a visual treat."--Raymond A. Mohl, Review Essay
"The kind of book one can open to almost any page and immediately become engrossed...[R]eaders will enjoy and benefit from this book...We eagerly await volume two."--Neil R. Stout, Vermont History
"Holds up to readers a mirror in which they can discover in themselves and in their own world the persistence of their heritage...An engrossing work that will whet the appetite for more."--The National Genealogical Society Quarterly
"Ingenious and provocative...Raises matters of cardinal interest."--The Times Literary Supplement
"A splendid work of historical scholarship. . . . based on an original conception of cultural history which I find extremely usable. Eminently readable."--Omer Hadziselimovic, Earlham College [SEE REVIEW CARD FOR ACCENTS ON LAST NAME]
"[A] sprightly analysis....This is history at a lively pace, peppered with curious details about the origins of familiar words and practices....The author makes a convincing case for his claim that `in a cultural sense most Americans are Albion's seed."--Chicago Sun-Times
"One of the most interesting, important, and ambitious books about American cultural and social origins ever written....A richly rewarding book, and one of great significance....It blends the best of new and old scholarship in lucid language designed to attract laymen and students alike. Very simply, Albion's Seed is a splendid achievement."--Michael Kammen, New York Newsday
"David Hackett Fischer's book could not be much bigger or more ambitious. It is the first in a series of volumes that he hopes will eventually constitute a cultural history of the United States....This book starts his series with a bang--a big bang....Remarkable....A revisionist blockbuster."--Gordon Wood, The New Republic
"Beautifully produced, this work should popularize the discoveries of a generation of scholars in the new social history. Anyone interested in these four cultures of the Anglo-American colonists will find here population data, family life, community mores, and achetypical individuals, portrayed in a clear and often lively text, thoughtfully analyzed illustrations, and wonderful maps."--Stephen Saunders Webb, Washington Post Book World
Top customer reviews
I especially like the sections where the author explores "Freedom Ways" of the four groups covered. It is a gentle reminder just how unique cultures can be to consider that their interpretations of something as seemingly self-explanatory as freedom could be so different.
The reason it had such a powerful impact on me is because I was expecting a history book and it's not - it's an anthropology book. It is a study of nature - human nature as it arose in England and settled in America 400 years ago.
At its core Albion's Seed accepts the conservative belief that what people ARE is more important to history than what people DO. It is surprising to see this book coming from a sociology professor at Brandeis University - a place generally racially hostile to indigenous European peoples such as the English.
Albion's Seed is about the English settlers of America in the 1600s and 1700s. And it contains not a trace of hostility or condescension towards them. In the case of the Quakers of the Delaware Valley it is openly admiring - so much so that Fisher almost loses his academic detachment.
In addition to the Quakers who emigrated from the North Midlands fleeing persecution, it studies the Puritan Congregationalists who settled New England from East England seeking to create a perfect society; the royalist elites from the South of England who left because of population pressure and formed Virginian society; and the war-like, clan-like families from the English/Scottish border fleeing famine and persecution who settled the American backcountries.
Fisher brilliantly and deeply describes the varied folkways of these people and (especially in the case of the English/Scotch border folk) how those ways arose from the history of their homeland. In America they were free from the pressures of England - but they brought their nature and culture with them and carved out unique, successful, and cultured societies in the new world.
This book is deeply researched and thoroughly footnoted. It is both scholarly and easy to read. I highly recommend it to anyone who believes that history changes - but people do not.
Most recent customer reviews
Fischer's insights are eye-opening!
have a President like Donald...Read more