RandomAnthony's Reviews > The Wordy Shipmates

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
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Nov 15, 08


In The Wordy Shipmates Ms. Vowell half, or maybe three-quarters, succeeds with the transformation from memoirist with a history bend to a historian who occasionally injects her own story into the text. Vowell comes off like a particularly accessible high school teacher giving a series of lectures on early American history. She works hard to enliven the past and connect the implications to the modern world. Her passion for the subject is apparent, but I could have used more conventional historical text organization, e.g. chapters, a glossary of names, etc. There were times when I had a hard time keeping the narrative thread straight. Still, I liked the book, and I think Vowell has a bright future with this type of approach...her books have never let me down.
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Reading Progress

11/07/2008 page 39
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Hundeschlitten Hey Tony,
Vowell is giving a reading from the book on Thursday, Oct 23, at 6 PM, at the Harold Washington Library. I plan on attending. You should come on down and we'll make an evening of it.


RandomAnthony I've got student teaching seminar that night...can't make it. I'm going to be down the weekend of Nov. 14th, though...The Hold Steady and DBT are sharing a bill at the Riv...maybe we could hook up then...


Shelly Hey RA! I'm listening to this on my itunes now. I think I should've gotten in book form--there's a lot of information. It's good, huh? My favorite part so far is when she talks about how Reagan used Winthrop's "City on a Hill" speech even though he was radically anti socialist and Winthrop was all about giving it up for your neighbor in the name of God.


RandomAnthony Yeah, I like it a lot so far, Shelly...I remember you said in another thread that Vowell is transcending the memoir thing...I totally agree. She did a ton of research here, eh? I'm looking forward to reading further this weekend...


Jackie "the Librarian" I am half way through this book, and I wish it had chapters, too, RA. It's so dense, I would like more breaks between ideas.
I put it down, and it hasn't called me to pick it back up again...
And now it's overdue at the library!


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I say leave it, Jackie! Or are you usually enamored of her? Do you believe in her? You can always put it back on hold and see if you want to finish it when it's your turn, again.


Shelly Phooey on all a y'all. I like it.


message 8: by RandomAnthony (last edited Nov 16, 2008 04:17AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

RandomAnthony Jackie, what happens when a librarian keeps a book past its due date? Do the other librarians give you mean looks? Do you have to wear a letter "O" on your clothes? Wow...this late-book Jackie is kind of exciting.

Ginnie, those are good questions. There was a short bibliography/recommended reading list, and Vowell references some of her sources in-text (e.g. "In this book he says this") but nothing else comes to mind.

I agree that Vowell was trying to make this dry material accessible to people who wouldn't normally read history. Maybe she just needs a little more practice. I don't know. That's just my perspective. It's a little nitpicky, maybe. I still liked the book.


Jackie "the Librarian" Randomanthony, librarians are the worst offenders when it comes to having overdue books! But I try not to do it (much), and I think I'm just going to have to buy The Wordy Shipmates because I'm feeling guilty keeping a title with a lot of holds past the due date.


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