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The Naked Quaker: True Crimes and Controversies from the Courts of Colonial New England
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The Naked Quaker: True Crimes and Controversies from the Courts of Colonial New England

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  73 ratings  ·  23 reviews
A lawyer and historian scours the court records of early New England to reveal the daily underside of Puritan life.
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Commonwealth Editions (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  73 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Ms Rapaport provides us with a perspective that brings to life our New England ancestors through court records. An enlightening and interesting book that my ninth great grandmother Lydia Wardell, the Naked Quaker of the title, would have appreciated.
Gerry Burnie
Aug 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Gerry B's Book Reviews -

Being a former law professor and a rabid history buff, The Naked Quaker: True Crimes and Controversies from the Courts of Colonial New England, by Diane Rapaport [Commonwealth Editions, 2007] was right up my alley. It is a collection of cases gleaned from the archival court records of Puritan New England, c. 1620s to the latter part of that century.

Although we think of the present as being a litigious time, and in some ways it is, it
Nov 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: law
This is a great idea for a book, and it's a quick and fairly enjoyable read. It could be a lot better, though. Working court records into flowing paragraphs is difficult, and only a handful of writers seem to do it really well (David D. Hall is an example that comes to mind for this time period). It's hard to pin down what exactly it is that makes someone like Hall's prose sound good when working with court records. Here, I think Rapaport needs to work on the balance in her writing. More ...more
June Ahern
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was gifted to me by an author friend living in Boston. It is a gift I enjoy over and over. "The Naked Quaker" - my history lesson brought into real life people and situation by the author, Diane Rapaport's good eye for interesting and often funny real legal cases in Colonial times. I enjoy history very much and with the book's recorded cases have found how people at that time are like people nowadays; squabbles over property, young people drinking and partying against the rules, women ...more
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Naked Quaker is the catchy title of a delightful non-fiction collection chronicling the literal trials and social tribulations of our colonial ancestors. The author, a former lawyer, has found a niche for herself researching New England town archives to recount these amazing tales which she brings to life with a good deal of empathy for all parties concerned.

The accused are called to account for a variety of offences including card playing, witchcraft, fornicating, partying, highway robbery,
Susana Pierce
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended by one of my favorite podcasts, Hub History, I picked it up at the Salem Witch Museum, and it didn’t let me down. Focusing on people and events documented in New England court records, Diane Rapaport’s book is easy and interesting reading, especially for those interested in early New England History.
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit, this books somewhat salacious title induced me to purchase it on a recent trip to Boston. I'll also admit that I was a bit disappointed that the contents of the book proved to be nowhere near as titillating as the title suggested they would be. That having been said, however, this is really a pretty good book. Essentially, it's simply a collection of various interesting episodes found in court records from Colonial New England, which sounds pretty boring. Fortunately, the author is ...more
Jan 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
The premise of this book had much promise -- odd, but true, court cases from colonial New England -- but it just didn't come together very well. It was not written in a manner that grabs the reader. Several of my book club did not finish, and it's a really short book. I realize the author was trying to stick to the facts of the cases, but a little speculation would have lightened up the stories. I really liked the case in which a church tried to move its building to a piece of property that the ...more
Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, read-in-2010
A series of fascinating and often funny stories taken from court records during the colonial period. It just goes to show that there's nothing new under the sun -- drunkenness, adultery, public brawls and lawsuits seem to have been just as common then as they are now. Anybody who thinks the Puritans were just stuffy people in black and white clothes who never did anything fun should think again. I really enjoyed this.
A fun idea, but the writing doesn't live up to the subject matter. History buffs will love this one, because it's a look at the weirdest and most scandalous (and drunkest) crimes of Colonial New England.

Not a half bad companion to The Wordy Shipmates, as they both point out that the people back then were human, too.
Jan 29, 2010 rated it liked it
While I didn't think the writing was superb, I thought the stories were fascinating. But, I agree with others who suggested that as a book, the stores didn't really go together...but, the author tried to tie them together by mentioning characters that would appear in other stories, which created some confusion. That said, I thought the stories were very interesting and in some cases, hilarious.
Kevin A.
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Diane Rapaport, a former trial lawyer turned historian, uses court cases as a window into the lives of early New Englanders. As she notes, colonial New England was a more litigious society than America today, and nothing provides as much detail into everyday life as court testimony and depositions. Human nature being what it is, her accounts are lively, pointed, and quite entertaining.
Geordie Korper
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
The stories are perfect for what they originally were which is magazine articles. As a collection though they become repetitive and disjointed. I had this book with me on 2 5 hour flights, a 4 hour train ride and a similar length bus ride. I still was not able to get myself to continue reading it. Only one person out ten in my book club liked it.
Sarah Morenon
May 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
I didn't read all of it, but most. Her blasé tone when detailing cruel, often racist historical events is just plain horrible. Oh, la di da, some poor Indian was cheated out of his livelihood, ha ha. The author just seems to find these historical legal dealings amusing. Yuck.
Apr 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a great book. For anyone wanting to learn more about life in colonial New England. It was a very enjoyable read and well documented. I also found two ancestors mentioned, one on the side of the law and the other, well, let's just say he didn't have full knowledge of the law.
Peggy Clemens Lauritzen
I LOVED this book! I love anything about old New England, the customs, and the things that happened that molded some of our laws into what they are today.

Diane Rapaport has done an excellent job in flushing out some of the more exemplary cases. Her work is thorough and good.
Cherie In the Dooryard
Dec 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
Although this seemed to be a work of general nonfiction, it read like an academic work. To wit: dull. The stories were well-researched but tedious to get through. The author's strength is her interest and knowledge, not her writing.
Dec 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Diane has gathered an odd assortment of true-life stories, culled from 17th & 18th century New England courthouse records, that could be featured in Ripley's "Believe it or Not." Apparently our ancestors weren't all that quietly appropriate or religiously obedient as we once thought.
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely fascinating look at Puritan New England in a totally different light. Fascinating to read about some very odd laws that were on the books back in the day (and I'm sure probably still are)!
J. D.
May 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
An entertaining read about the misbehavior of our colonial ancestors (and/or predecessors). The by-product of extensive legal scholarship.
Jun 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Very interesting read!
Mrs. Quinn
May 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Lots of shenanigans in colonial New England. Diane Rapaport loves reading colonial court documents and so do I. Here, she puts them into readable stories.
Sep 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting and entertaining book.
rated it really liked it
Mar 05, 2016
Kaitlyn Saunders
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Aug 22, 2014
rated it it was ok
Jan 03, 2009
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Aug 29, 2011
rated it really liked it
Jan 19, 2019
rated it it was ok
Jan 29, 2010
Zoma Olson
rated it it was amazing
Nov 27, 2018
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Diane Rapaport, a former trial lawyer, has made a new career as an award-winning author and speaker. She brings history to life with true stories from colonial New England, and she uses her legal training to help people find ancestors and trace regional history in underutilized court records. Her special interests include 17th-century New England, American legal history, and Scottish heritage.