Cover image for The genuine article : a historian looks at early America
The genuine article : a historian looks at early America
Morgan, Edmund S. (Edmund Sears), 1916-2013.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton & Co., [2004]

Physical Description:
xi, 315 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E188.5 .M67 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E188.5 .M67 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E188.5 .M67 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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"This book amounts to an intellectual autobiography....These pieces are thus a statement of what I have thought about early Americans during nearly seventy years in their company," writes historian Edmund S. Morgan in the introduction to this landmark collection. The Genuine Article gathers together twenty-five of Morgan's finest essays over forty years, commenting brilliantly on everything from Jamestown to James Madison. In revealing the private lives of "Those Sexy Puritans" and "The Price of Honor" on Southern plantations, The Genuine Article details the daily lives of early Americans, along with "The Great Political Fiction" that continues to this day. As one of our most celebrated historians, Morgan's characteristic insight and penetrating wisdom are not to be missed in this extraordinarily rich portrait of early America and its Founding Fathers.

Author Notes

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Edmund Morgan spent most of his youth in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was educated at the Belmont Hill School, Harvard, and the London School of Economics. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1942 and three years later began his teaching career at the University of Chicago.From there he moved first to Brown University and then to Yale, where he became Sterling Professor in 1965 and emeritus in 1986.

Morgan's historical writings greatly enhance our understanding of such complex aspects of the American experience as Puritanism, the Revolution, and the relationship between slavery and racism. At the same time, they captivate readers in the classroom and beyond. His work is a felicitous blend of rigorous scholarship, imaginative analysis, and graceful presentation.

Although sometimes characterized as the quintessential Whig historian, in reality Morgan transcends simplistic categorization and has done more, perhaps, than any other historian to open new and creative paths of inquiry into the meaning of the early American experience.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Morgan, a professor emeritus at Yale, is the author of the best-selling, luminous, and comfortably read biography Benjamin0 Franklin0 (2002). He has been a contributor to the New York Review of Books 0 for several decades, and the more than 20 review-essays gathered in his new book all saw previous publication in that distinguished serial. Assembled, the essays "amount to a kind of intellectual autobiography," for they represent, again in his words, "a statement of what I have thought about early Americans during nearly 70 years in their company." Obviously, then, the colonial period has been his specialty; specific topics discussed here include John Winthrop, Puritan governor of Massachusetts; slave life in the southern colonies; and, not surprisingly, for it is a favorite occupier of his thoughts and item on his writing agenda, Benjamin Franklin. Morgan's scholarship is beyond reproach, his voice sincerely welcoming. --Brad Hooper Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Even in his 80s, Morgan continues to be one of the wisest and most eloquent interpreters of early American history. Because we have come to expect Morgan to provide deeply insightful and original readings of the American past, this new book at first disappoints, for it consists of review essays that first appeared in the New York Review of Books. On the other hand, the 24 essays represent a Morgan miscellany and function, he notes, as a kind of intellectual autobiography, tracing the development of his scholarly career. In the earliest of these essays, on Puritan New England, Morgan measures the value of various studies of Puritanism against the classic work of his mentor, Perry Miller. Later essays reveal the brilliance of Morgan's scholarship as he examines topics ranging from Puritanism and sex (sexual pleasure was an "entitlement" of marriage, for women as well as men), witch trials and slavery to the significance of the publication of the 24-volume American National Biography (in an essay co-written with his wife). In various essays, Morgan argues that John Winthrop was America's "first great man" because he, like Washington, Franklin and Lincoln, "pursued and accomplished radical ends by conservative means" and that George Washington was "the founding father" because of his pursuit of power by honorable means. Morgan's essay on Benjamin Franklin provides an outline of his acclaimed and bestselling 2002 biography. Morgan's elegant prose and critical acumen shine brightly and remind us how deep our debt is to his illuminating readings of early American history. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Author of the best-selling Benjamin Franklin, Morgan (Sterling Professor, emeritus, history, Yale Univ.) is one of the most respected authorities on American Colonial and Revolutionary history. His new work consists of 24 book reviews originally published in the New York Review of Books over the past quarter of a century. But these are more than mere reviews; they are discursive essays that range far and wide over two centuries of history. As Morgan notes in his preface, these essays amount to an intellectual autobiography, as they trace his evolving interests through a career of over five decades. The first section deals with New Englanders, the second with Southerners, and the third with Revolutionaries. The many topics covered include sex (which the Puritans enjoyed more than one might have guessed), women, witch-hunting, slavery, John Winthrop, the Seven Years War, and numerous others. Morgan is a member of that rare species: the academic who can write with authority and grace, offering insights valuable for their common sense, perspicacity, wit, and persuasiveness. This book belongs in every library; they don't come any better than this. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/04.]-Thomas J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Yale emeritus historian Morgan has written over a dozen history books ranging from seminal considerations of Puritanism to important biographies of American colonials, and has also been a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books for over 40 years, generally reviewing studies that deal with his areas of expertise. This volume is an edited reprinting of approximately two dozen of his Review essays, grouped into four categories dealing with New England, the colonial South, the American Revolution, and early US culture. These essays are far more, however, than simply book reviews of various important historical studies published since the early 1970s. They are instead cogent and sometimes erudite review essays that touch on a wide range of matters, including the nature of historiography, the historical method as intellectual expression, and the larger role that history plays in shaping our social consciousness. Morgan thus uses these essays to provide many useful insights into the practice of the historical craft. These essays have delighted two generations of Review readers, and this reprinted collection will undoubtedly do the same for those who encounter it. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. L. T. Cummins Austin College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. IX
Part 1 New Englandersp. 1
Chapter 1 America's First Great Manp. 5
Chapter 2 Heaven Can't Waitp. 15
Chapter 3 Those Sexy Puritansp. 22
Chapter 4 The Chosen Peoplep. 31
Chapter 5 Subject Womenp. 40
Chapter 6 Witch-Huntingp. 54
Chapter 7 Bewitchedp. 61
Part 2 Southernersp. 71
Chapter 8 Our Townp. 75
Chapter 9 The Fall of the Gentryp. 83
Chapter 10 The Big American Crimep. 90
Chapter 11 Plantation Bluesp. 108
Chapter 12 The Price of Honorp. 122
Part 3 Revolutionariesp. 133
Chapter 13 How the French Lost Americap. 137
Chapter 14 A Loyal Un-Americanp. 147
Chapter 15 The Oedipal Revolutionp. 156
Chapter 16 Secrets of Benjamin Franklinp. 163
Chapter 17 Don't Tread On Usp. 185
Chapter 18 The Fixersp. 197
Chapter 19 The Great Political Fictionp. 207
Chapter 20 Power to the People?p. 225
Chapter 21 The Second American Revolutionp. 236
Chapter 22 The Genuine Articlep. 248
Part 4 Questions of Culturep. 261
Chapter 23 Persuading the Persuadedp. 265
Chapter 24 Who's Really Who (with Marie Morgan)p. 275
Notesp. 295
Indexp. 301