WSJ Bookshelf, First Monday of August 2013

Today’s Wall Street Journal Bookshelf review, by Kirk Davis Swinehart, is of Allegra di Bonaventura’s For Adam’s Sake, which tells the “intimate history of racial slavery in early New England through the entwined lives of five families . .  .”

Splendid!  Self adores books about the earliest American colonies.  They never fail to disappoint.  The last such book she read was Mayflower:  A True Story of Courage, Community and War by Nathaniel Philbrick.  (It was from Philbrick that self learned that the early white colonists were but poor physical specimens (most were short, with rotting gums — dentition was not apparently of major concern among the first colonizers) compared to the resplendent Native Americans, whose bodies were taut and hard from years of outdoor activity:  hunting, etc Before self gets too carried away with the magnificent physicality of the First Peoples, she will return to the Wall Street Journal review of di Bonaventura’s book:

Ms. di Bonaventura, a Yale-trained historian and lawyer, found the threads of her story in a little-known diary kept by one Joshua Hempstead, a widowed yeoman shipwright whose English-born farmer father was among New London’s original planters.  From 1711 until his death in 1758, at the age of 84, Hempstead steadily documented the vicissitudes of everyday life at the scruffy western edge of Britain’s empire, in a claustrophobic community where people of every social station rubbed up against one another with sometimes calamitous consequences.

The book, “700-plus pages,” traces “the parallel lives of slaves and owners over several generations, from 1670s through the 1750s.”  It begins with the story of “Maria, a deaf woman transported in chains from her native West Indies to New London.”  She married another West Indian slave and had two children, one of whom was a boy named Adam, who “for 27 years . . . would remain the property of the John Rogers family.”

Self cannot wait to begin this book.  Course, that probably won’t be until several years from now, as her reading pace is extremely slow.  Nevertheless, she WILL get to it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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