- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Globe Pequot Press; First edition (October 2, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0762780401
- ISBN-13: 978-0762780402
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 32 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Insubordinate Spirit: A True Story Of Life And Loss In Earliest America 1610-1665 Paperback – October 2, 2012
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Showing 1-8 of 32 reviews
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What I really enjoyed about the book was learning more about Robert Feake, Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake's second husband, who was the uncle of Judith Feake, who married our first direct ancestor in America... Lt. William Palmer. I have done extensive Feake genealogy over the years, and was happy to see mention of our ancestors in this book, and even though it was not about Lt. William Palmer, he was mentioned in passing as well.
I purchased this book because after reading "The Winthrop Woman" I wanted a more concrete history of the Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut colonies. I was not disappointed. Wolfe did an excellent job of researching her facts and bringing this into a much clearer focus.
I had two points of contention with this book. The first was Wolfe's long narrative on the native Americans in the area. I know they were crucial to our colonial history, and I enjoyed learning more about them, but I found myself getting very confused over the myriad of difficult-to-pronounce tribe names. It was unclear to me, as well, whether these tribes were large or only consisted of a few hundred people. In some instances, Wolfe does clarify this, but at other times I was left a bit befuddled. (And that's really my fault, and not the author's).
However, I felt myself sometimes getting frustrated with trying to straighten out all the different tribes. My area of familiarity with the tribes in New England rather stopped with the Iroquois Nation, which made up the Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora, Seneca, and Mohawk, for example. In reading "Insubordinate Spirit," which I thought was a book that would be focused a bit more on Elizabeth Winthrop, I wondered if the complexity of these tribes and the ties they had (or didn't have) to each other, might have been pared down a bit and instead become the focus of a separate book.
The other problem I had with this book was trying to visualize in my mind where all these settlements and Indian tribes were located. While Wolfe did a fairly good job letting us know, I found myself floundering. I am not from New England. I've never been there. I'm a Wisconsin country woman. Wolfe included a few maps, which were wonderful, but unless you know what those maps represent in the modern day world, it didn't help much. I know this isn't Wolfe's fault, and more likely lays with me, but if someone told me to find Cape Cod or Long Island on a map, I would only have a general idea where to start looking.
Likewise, she mentioned creeks and rivers that were lost to me. I've heard of the East River and the Hudson. The other thing she did, which would be really helpful if a person actually lived in or near Greenwich or Long Island, was to refer to someone's home and then saying that it was probably located where the present day "Such and Such a Park" lays, or "Such and Such road." This doesn't help anyone who has no ideas where those places where.
What I would have liked seeing was the old map, and then a modern map next to it, perhaps with a circled or starred area on the modern map so I could mentally fix the area she was talking about.
So, those were two minor irritations, but on the whole the book was great! She is a very good writer, and I don't recall any typos or grammatical errors. I was appalled reading about the horrible massacres carried out by the Dutch against the Indians, and also some of the Indian attacks on white settlements.
Wolfe used a lot of primary sources (which of course were no longer primary as they'd been transcribed), but it was very interesting reading letters written by the Winthrops and their contemporaries, and especially by Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake.
While I had already understood the Dutch aspect of the colonial world, and knew that they were fairly tolerant of all religions, it was still interesting to read primary sources (secondary sources) that illustrated this. There was one thing I remember reading decades ago, perhaps when I was in college, though, that she didn't mention. I had read that the reason the derogatory term "redskins" was used to describe Indians was because when they were scalped, the blood turned their skin red. And I also read that it was actually the Dutch who were the first to practice scalping, and NOT the Native Americans. Yet this tidbit was not mentioned, and I feel that in light of the other things Wolfe wrote about the horrid Capt. Underhill and the Dutch colonial leaders who massacred Indians, this might have been mentioned. Of course, it's not up to me to say what she decides to include.
All in all, I really did enjoy this book! In some ways I feel that perhaps I'm not fair with my rating of only 4 stars, but when it comes down to reviews, it's really all about "our" opinions of the book, and as I stated previously, the myriad of very difficult-to-pronouce Indian tribe names, and the confusion of trying to figure out just where certain homes, fights, or Dutch vs. English territories were left me a bit perturbed.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants a real "history" of the mid-1600's and the settling of this country. It is not a novel, it's an academic work, and kudos to the author for producing something so scholarly.
So far, we are really enjoying the book and jumping around a bit to check out various parts in advance.
It seems very interesting and quite comprehensive, with a great depth of history.
We will update our review later when we have finished.