In this lively exploration of America’s intellectual heritage, acclaimed poet, novelist, and critic Jay Parini celebrates the life and times of thirteen books that helped shape the American psyche.
Moving nimbly between the great watersheds in American letters—including Walden , Huckleberry Finn , The Souls of Black Folk , and On the Road —Parini demonstrates how these books entered American life and altered how we think and act in the world. An immensely readable and vibrant work of cultural history, Promised Land exposes the rich literary foundation of our culture, and is sure to appeal to all book lovers and students of the American character alike.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Promised Land|
|Release Date: 11-11-2008|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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Of Plymouth Plantation
Every nation has a founding myth, or myths: stories that talk of bright but challenging beginnings, portraying the drama of self-definition and establishment. The United States, with its complex origins and mixed identities, has many such myths, but among them is a primary text in the story of American colonial life: William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation, a journal written between 1620 and 1647. It tells the story of the original Pilgrims, who came to Plymouth in Massachusetts from northern England, via the Netherlands, on the Mayflower in 1620. The historical importance of this journal cannot be exaggerated. Apart from being a vivid account of what happened, it has immense credibility, having been written by a man who was an active agent (as governor) in the story itself.
The adventures and misadventures of the Pilgrims form the core of Bradford's journal, which recounts a thoroughly absorbing story about a people who managed against the odds to pull together for the sake of their community, to get control over their own rebels and malcontents, and to make peace among themselves and with the native population, the Wampanoag, with whom (after a difficult year of illness and privation, which reduced their numbers almost by half) they shared what has become known as the first Thanksgiving: a celebration of mutual interests. Although the exact nature of this event, a harvest festival that occurred in the fall of 1621, has relatively little in common with the mythic tale most Americans hear about in elementary school, it has become a legend, one of those primal stories that have shaped our sense of who we are.