Cover image for Between two worlds : how the English became Americans
Title:
Between two worlds : how the English became Americans
Author:
Gaskill, Malcolm, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, [2014]

©2014
Physical Description:
xxiii, 484 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Summary:
"In Between two worlds, historian Malcolm Gaskill tells the sweeping story of the English experience in America during the first century of colonization. Following a large and varied cast of visionaries and heretics, merchants and warriors, and slaves and rebels, Gaskill illuminates the often traumatic challenges the settlers faced. The first waves sought to re-create the English way of life, even to recover a society that was vanishing at home. But they were thwarted at every turn by the perils of a strange continent, unaided by monarchs who first ignored and then exploited them. As these colonists strove to leave their mark on the New World, they were forced -- by hardship and hunger, by illness and infighting, and by bloody and desperate battles with Indians -- to innovate and adapt, or perish. As later generations acclimated to the wilderness, they recognized that they had evolved into something distinct: no longer just English in America, they were perhaps not even English at all"--Publisher's description.
Language:
English
Contents:
Planters, 1607-1640. Brave heroic minds ; Earth's only paradise ; Each man shall have his share ; The vast and furious ocean ; Full of wild beasts and wild men ; Projects of no fantasy ; To clearer light and more liberty ; In darkness and the shadow of death -- Saints, 1640-1675. The distracted condition of my dear native soil ; Marching manfully on ; Devouring caterpillars and gnawing worms ; A heap of troubles and confusion ; How is your beauty become ashes? ; Remembrance of an exile in a remote wilderness ; The day of trouble is near -- Warriors, 1675-1692. Exquisite torments and most inhumane barbarities ; A people bred up in this country ; Being a constitution within themselves ; Strange creatures in America ; These dark territories ; Epilogue : new worlds.
ISBN:
9780465011117
Format :
Manuscript

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Summary

Summary

In the 1600s, over 350,000 intrepid English men, women, and children migrated to America, leaving behind their homeland for an uncertain future. Whether they settled in Jamestown, Salem, or Barbados, these migrants--entrepreneurs, soldiers, and pilgrims alike--faced one incontrovertible truth: England was a very, very long way away.

In Between Two Worlds , celebrated historian Malcolm Gaskill tells the sweeping story of the English experience in America during the first century of colonization. Following a large and varied cast of visionaries and heretics, merchants and warriors, and slaves and rebels, Gaskill brilliantly illuminates the often traumatic challenges the settlers faced. The first waves sought to recreate the English way of life, even to recover a society that was vanishing at home. But they were thwarted at every turn by the perils of a strange continent, unaided by monarchs who first ignored then exploited them. As these colonists strove to leave their mark on the New World, they were forced--by hardship and hunger, by illness and infighting, and by bloody and desperate battles with Indians--to innovate and adapt or perish.

As later generations acclimated to the wilderness, they recognized that they had evolved into something distinct: no longer just the English in America, they were perhaps not even English at all. These men and women were among the first white Americans, and certainly the most prolific. And as Gaskill shows, in learning to live in an unforgiving world, they had begun a long and fateful journey toward rebellion and, finally, independence


Author Notes

Malcolm Gaskill is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia and the author of four books, including Witchfinders: A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy . A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Gaskill lives near Cambridge, England.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Gaskill (Witchfinders), a professor of early modern history at the University of East Anglia, offers an in-depth look at the experiences of the first three generations of English settlers on the American continent that examines their slow transformation into a new culture. As he states, this is an examination of a "neglected dimension of the history of England: what happened to its people in America, and the effect America had on those who remained at home." Gaskill covers a little less than a century, from 1607 to 1692, a period in which settlers dealt with both culture clash and identity crisis, clinging to old ways even as they were influenced and altered by the frontier, its dangers, and the Native Americans already inhabiting it. Gaskill argues that instead of embracing new identities, "English migrants to America strove to preserve Englishness, and when they did change, the causes were not exclusively American." Meticulously-researched and drawing on a plenitude of original source material, Gaskill's study provides an underrepresented view of early American history. However, the dense nature of this book and its scholarly tone may ward off casual readers-it's perfect for serious historians and academics, less so for those needing an accessible entry point to the subject. Agent: Peter Robinson, Robinson Literary Agency Ltd. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

As a history of the English in 17th century America, and, in part, of those who remained at home, Gaskill's (Witchfinders) latest work is ultimately a disappointment. Though the author provides a great sense of the ambivalence of these early colonists and their continued connections with their homeland, the reader doesn't get to know these pioneers very well. Part of the reason for this may be that Gaskill is constantly introducing new people and situations. Only in the instances of major figures-Massachusetts governor John Winthrop, minister Increase Mather, and his son Cotton Mather, for example-do their stories continue throughout multiple chapters and thus become coherent. Such a start-and-stop manner of narrative means that many of the people and their lives begin to blur together and become indistinguishable. All of which is a shame because Gaskill's research was clearly thorough, and he has an immense understanding of the period, quoting ably from hundreds of primary sources. VERDICT Though very different in intent and somewhat outside of the range of the period Gaskill covers, David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America would be a good substitute.-Derek Sanderson, Mount Saint Mary Coll. Lib., Newburgh, NY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

The 17th century was a turbulent era for English folk on both sides of the Atlantic. This vividly written work effectively explores the multiple ways each colonial venture reflected and influenced a rapidly transforming, crisis-ridden England, as well as the effects of England's experience on them. The focus is on "mutually transformed mentalities on both continents." Historiographically, the book bridges a wide gulf. As Gaskell (Univ. of East Anglia, UK) writes, "Too many American scholars still see England as backstory; too many of their colleagues across the Atlantic lose interest in the migrants as they exit the European map." The organization is generational, denominated by dominant transatlantic imagery-planter, saint, warrior. Within each section are narrative chapters illustrating the interactions and capturing the broad geographic scope of the English experience, 1607-92. In keeping with this ambitious agenda, the notes are full and plentiful. There is also a superb essay, "Further Readings," which alone would be worth the price of admission. In short, this book provides an excellent synthesis and nuanced interpretation of a complex and crucial era of English and American history. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above. --Richard P. Gildrie, Austin Peay State University


Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Prologue: Worlds Collidep. xvi
Mapsp. xxiv
I Planters, 1607-1640
1 Brave Heroic Mindsp. 3
2 Earth's Only Paradisep. 22
3 Each Man Shall Have His Sharep. 38
4 The Vast and Furious Oceanp. 57
5 Full of Wild Beasts and Wild Menp. 75
6 Projects of No Fantasyp. 92
7 To Clearer Light and More Libertyp. 109
8 In Darkness and the Shadow of Deathp. 128
II Saints, 1640-1675
9 The Distracted Condition of My Dear Native Soilp. 151
10 Marching Manfully Onp. 170
11 Devouring Caterpillars and Gnawing Wormsp. 186
12 A Heap of Troubles and Confusionp. 202
13 How Is Your Beauty Become Ashes?p. 220
14 Remembrance of an Exile in a Remote Wildernessp. 239
15 The Day of Trouble Is Nearp. 258
III Warriors, 1675-1692
16 Exquisite Torments and Most Inhumane Barbaritiesp. 277
17 A People Bred Up in this Countryp. 292
18 Being a Constitution Within Themselvesp. 310
19 Strange Creatures in Americap. 330
20 These Dark Territoriesp. 352
Epilogue: New Worldsp. 373
Acknowledgmentsp. 391
Abbreviationsp. 393
Notesp. 395
Further Readingp. 446
Illustration Creditsp. 463
Indexp. 465