- Series: Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press; New edition edition (February 1, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1469600870
- ISBN-13: 978-1469600871
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #958,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Prospero's America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676 (Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early ... and the University of North Carolina Press) New edition Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
The story is good, revealing how the scientific method emerged from empirical alchemy and giving a brilliant new interpretation of Winthrop's supposed change in attitude toward colonial potentials in his later years.--Early American Life
In a strikingly alchemical mixture, this book combines politics, economics, science, industry, warfare, and religion, and manages to create that most treasured of prizes--a fascinating portrait of a man who, while not unknown, is not as well known as perhaps is appropriate. . . . Readers will find many of their assumptions about Puritan New England challenged and ultimately revised. . . . Highly recommended.--Choice
"Marks a great leap forward in the integration of science studies with the grand tradition of colonial New England historiography, as well as in the integration of New England into studies of the early modern Atlantic world. . . . [Woodward] displays a sure hand in providing the best available account of the predisciplinary career of New England's most multidimensional founder.--American Historical Review
[A] competent and interesting study that places alchemy at the heart of John Winthrop, Jr.'s effort to shape colonial America.--Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History
Fresh, inventive, and mostly persuasive. . . . A far more interesting and important Winthrop than prior accounts have constructed.--Church History
A milestone in the study of John Winthrop Jr. . . . A first-rate study that radically changes our understanding of the younger Winthrop.--Journal of American History
Prospero's America masterfully places the life, thoughts, and actions of the Connecticut governor in elaborate cultural, political, and historical contexts. Its author leaves few stones unturned as he immerses his reader in Renaissance occultism, seventeenth-century medicine, early New England religious culture, and the politics of empire.--ZAA
Intriguing. . . . Thoroughly researched, highly readable, and insightful.--Early American Literature
A fine study by Woodward. Not strictly a biography, but it nonetheless places Winthrop at the center of the account.--Huntington Library Quarterly
[A] magnificently rich, wide-ranging, and suggestive book. . . . Holds important implications for the study not only of early American history but also the history of science. . . . A 'must read' for all historians of early New England and for historians of early modern science.--Common-Place
No one until now has made a sustained attempt to integrate John Winthrop the Younger's pansophic, medical, and religious views into a coherent account where alchemy played a major role. . . . Woodward's book should breathe a vigorous new life into the study of early New England's complex religious, intellectual, and material culture.--William R. Newman, Indiana University
Woodward restores New England to its Atlantic World context. . . . His reinterpretation of Winthrop through the eyes of New England's Native peoples--as a potent leader from a sachem's lineage--is brilliant. The familiar is cast anew, and the reader who burrows into Woodward's fresh and original argument is rewarded again and again.--Ann Marie Plane, University of California, Santa Barbara
Walter Woodward has produced a splendidly original study of the world of John Winthrop, Jr. On almost every page one encounters provocative new insights. Woodward forces readers to rethink what they thought they knew about seventeenth-century science and medicine, witchcraft prosecutions, and political culture.--T. H. Breen, Center for Historical Studies, Northwestern University
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The author does tend to be a bit redundant in emphasizing his main points. I didn't get much sense of the man Winthrop, but this is not a biography as such--but a thesis on one man's involvement with alchemy. Also a potential reader should be aware that not a great deal is known about John Winthrop Jr.'s specific alchemical practices, owing to the great secrecy both he and his fellow alchemists were compelled to use. However it does give a good portrayal of Winthrop's mining operations, medical practices, and the influence of his alchemical worldview on his politics as governor of colonial Connecticut.
I should also mention that Professor Woodward lists the practitioners of alchemy in colonial New England which makes this book useful to genealogists of this region.
"Winthrop and his alchemical colleagues did not question whether alchemy was "scientific" or whether it was consistent with Puritan values. They understood alchemy to be a progressive, intellectual, immensely utilitarian but simultaneously spiritual undertaking of the utmost importance. They saw themselves as enlightened beings and lived in hope of achieving scientific advances of both immediate practical value and eternal importance."
Without setting out to do so, I believe Woodword has set in motion the academic study of the missing link of why alchemy was at the root of the Enlightenment and owns a recognizable place at the foundation of the philosophies that would form Speculative Freemasonry.
He details the relationships that connected the Medici, Marsilio Ficino, Pico Mirandolo, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa and Philippus Bambastus von Hohenhiem to that of the Royal Society and the secretive natural philosophers of the time such as Morray and Winthorp. Subsequently, he provides both the pan-Atlanitic link between philosophies and outlines a Christianized approach to science that would stress understanding the power of God's creation through scientific investigation. This theocratic approach to the sciences is found to have permeated European protestant friendly approaches to understanding our existence and found their way across the Atlantic. The super-fertile ground of colonialism gave birth to a new "Christian alchemy" that cross pollinated with the thinkers of Europe and reads so similar to the philosophies of Freemasonry as to be almost inseparable providing the "cement" of explanation as to why alchemy is so pervasive throughout the Masonic degrees in allegorical form.
This book is academic, honest, and well done. I recommend it to historians interested in the Enlightenment, Colonial America, etc. I recommend it to Freemasons and esotericist as well. The level of scholarship is astounding and higher than we normally find in books with the word alchemy in the title.
Winthrop is popularly known as the man most responsible for defending Connecticut's existence and winning a clear royal charter to govern. Woodward reveals Winthrop's many other roles and how they were interrelated.
Viewed by many as "the lesser Governor" in reference to his role as Governor of Connecticut in contrast to his father's dominating role as Governor of the larger Massachusetts Colony, the Winthrop that Woodward documents leads to a different evaluation. He shows us a figure of great talent and even greater dreams and ambitions.
John Winthrop Jr. had a vision that, although ultimately frustrated, encompassed the possibility of establishing a settlement in the New World that would draw leading intellectuals to live and work in a great experimental laboratory whose output would influence worldwide thinking. He was deeply interested in science and saw the study of alchemy in a broader role than a narrow quest to turn baser metals into gold. He saw it as a philosophy, an expression of the sciences of chemistry, metallurgy and physics and a religious quest. Making practical application of science, he initiated important commercial projects in mining and salt making to bolster New England's economy.
It is remarkable to learn the extent to which Winthrop did not live a life of isolation in New England. He traveled and he corresponded eagerly with like-minded individuals in England and Europe, sharing discoveries in alchemy. He was made a member of the Royal Society and called upon to sate their great hunger and curiosity about the New World. Sensitive to the potentially negative political effects of such knowledge, he was cunning in responding to the Royal Society's demands without whetting the appetite for tighter royal control of the colonies and their resources.
Winthrop played many roles - as the founder of New London and other settlements, as the political leader who successfully negotiated and defended a royal charter for Connecticut, as a beloved medical doctor, as a practicing scientific alchemist, as the developer of mining and salt making operations, as the would-be protector of the defeated Pequot tribe, and as the pillar of reason against witchcraft hysteria. These actions were not independent of one another. Woodward shows the linkages between these seemingly disparate activities and how they flowed from the consistent inner character and motivations of the man who did them.
"Prospero's America" is not a book for light reading. It is deeply researched and meticulously documented. However, it is not for academic consumption alone. Anyone with an interest in Colonial New England will be richly rewarded for persevering to the end. You will never again be able to view the major political, social and commercial events of seventeenth century Connecticut as haphazard and uncorrelated nor Puritan leadership as uniformly rigid. You will see that Governor John Winthrop Jr. was not an isolated figure, remote from the intellectual mainstream of his era, hidden away in a wilderness corner of Connecticut and the marginal shadow of his famous father.