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Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America: 1 (America, a Cultural History) Hardcover – 1 Sep 1989

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc (1 Sept. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195037944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195037944
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 5.6 x 15.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,106,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Professor Fischer's careful research and analysis opens a much needed discussion of cultural character and origins in North America. The variety and complexity of historical sources will inform the work of other cultural historians and analysts."--Nadesan Permaul, UC Berkeley"This is history at a lively pace, peppered with curious details about the origins of families....The author makes a convincing case."--Dolores and Roger Flaherty, Chicago Sun-Times"A pleasure to read, for it is written with Fischer's characteristic perspicuity. Moreover, the numerous drawings by Jennifer Brody and maps by Andrew Mudryk are a visual treat."--Raymond A. Mohl, Review Essay"The kind of book one can open to almost any page and immediately become engrossed....readers will enjoy and benefit from this book....We eagerly await volume two."--Neil R. Stout, Vermont History"Holds up to readers a mirror in which they can discover in themselves and in their own world the persistence of their heritage....An engrossing work that will whet the appetite for more."--The National Genealogical Society Quarterly"Ingenious and provocative....Raises matters of cardinal interest."--IThe Times Literary Supplement"A splendid work of historical scholarship. . . . based on an original conception of cultural history which I find extremely usable. Eminently readable."--Omer Hadziselimovic, Earlham College [SEE REVIEW CARD FOR ACCENTS ON LAST NAME]"[A] sprightly analysis....This is history at a lively pace, peppered with curious details about the origins of familiar words and practices....The author makes a convincing case for his claim that in a cultural sense most Americans are Albion's seed."--Chicago Sun-Times"One of the most interesting, important, and ambitious books about American cultural and social origins ever written....A richly rewarding book, and one of great significance....It blends the best of new and old scholarship in lucid language designed to attract laymen and students alike. Very simply, Albion's Seed is a splendid achievement."--Michael Kammen, New York Newsday"David Hackett Fischer's book could not be much bigger or more ambitious. It is the first in a series of volumes that he hopes will eventually constitute a cultural history of the United States....This book starts his series with a bang--a big bang....Remarkable....A revisionist blockbuster."--Gordon Wood, The New Republic"Beautifully produced, this work should popularize the discoveries of a generation of scholars in the new social history. Anyone interested in these four cultures of the Anglo-American colonists will find here population data, family life, community mores, and achetypical individuals, portrayed in a clear and often lively text, thoughtfully analyzed illustrations, and wonderful maps."--Stephen Saunders Webb, Washington Post Book World

About the Author

David Hackett Fischer is Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University. He is the author of numerous books, including Paul Revere's Ride and Growing Old in America.

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ON A BLUSTERY MARCH MORNING in the year 1630, a great ship was riding restlessly at anchor in the Solent, near the Isle of Wight. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Dec. 1998
Format: Paperback
At a time when so-called "professional" historians are doing mental gymnastics to find "multicultural" and other politically correct interpretations of U.S. history (the Iroquois Confederacy as model for the Federalist Papers, etc. etc.), David Hackett Fischer brings us back to reality by showing just how pervasive has been the influence of the earliest British colonists---far more pervasive, in fact, than most of us had imagined, covering everything from political and legal institutions on the one hand to modes of play and styles of domestic architecture on the other. A simply magisterial work of historical synthesis that every American citizen---of whatever race or ethnicity---should read and ponder.
The first in a projected series on the cultural history of America, this whets one's appetites for the others.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Sept. 1999
Format: Paperback
A fantastic analysis and synthesis of why we are irretrievably British. I understand my parents attitudes, speech and culture so much better after reading it. My West VA mother actually speaks like he describes. My clansman descended father speaks, acts--IS just like he describes. It has been indispensible in my family history research. So many of my family`s traits and customs are explained as cultural and not just family quirks. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I will eagerly await further works by Fisher
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By hbw VINE VOICE on 29 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this endlessly fascinating and achingly beautiful book, David Hacket Fisher follows the fortunes of four groups of early migrants on their physical, cultural and spiritual journeys from the British Isles to what became the United States.

For the Puritans and Quakers who settled in Massachusetts and Delaware, respectively, the aim was nothing less than a rejection of 17th century England to build new kinds of society based on radically different values. In contrast, the cavaliers who headed to Virginia consciously set out to recreate the aristocratic land-owning society that was beginning to be undermined in their native Southern England.

The North British (landless Scots, Northern Irish and Cumbrian rednecks from the borders of the Irish Sea), having no real plan, headed as far from the law as possible and carried on feuding.

Fisher brings these various groups and their very different worlds vividly to life by examining different facets of what he calls "folkways" - everything from how they raised their children to the enormous variations in the roles and status of women. More importantly, he argues that these four cultures were crucial to the creation and development of the United States as well as many of the social structures and attitudes that we think of as distinctively American.

Despite its size (800+pages) and scope, this is an eminently readable book. Fischer wears his scholarship lightly and brings his tale to life with well chosen anecdotes. The publishers should be congratulated on the paperback edition - it's printed on good quality paper in clear good-sized type and contains fine black and white illustrations that complement the text.

Above all, this book "rings true". It clearly resonates with American readers. The rest of us will find both a fascinating work of history and a key to understanding the cultural landscape of the modern United States.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Nov. 1998
Format: Paperback
Anyone seriously interested in the earliest English settlers to America should read this book. By comparing the four groups (Virginians, Puritans, Quakers, Back Country) on a wide range of social characteristics, such as child rearing, educational values, work ethic, status of women, and so forth, Mr. Fischer begins to explain regional differences that still persist. Most importantly, he explains how these differing cultures helped nurture our democratic system. A BRAVO for this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Sept. 1998
Format: Paperback
David Hackett Fischer takes a new approach to the study of the four main English groups settling colonial America: Puritans from East Anglia to Massachusetts, Royalist Elite from south England to Virginia, Friends from the North Midlands to the Delaware Valley and North Brits to the "American backcountry." He presents his view as a link between past and present thinking.
This approach is especially appreciated by family historians, desiring a a better view into the hearts and minds of their forefathers. Some of the topics include: religious origins, the colonial mood, speech, building, gender, sex, children, death, magic ways, food, sports, time, work, wealth,rank, power.
This book has maps, illustrations, and SO MUCH information, you'll want to own this for easy reference!
DearMYRTLE
Daily Genealogy Columnist
Genealogy Forum on America Online
Keyword: dearmyrtle
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
A mind-altering book. Albion's seed will make you understand our nation in new ways. Read it and make sense of the gun control, urban violence, and public education. The Quaker section is not as strong as the other tow. But the take on Yankees and Scots-Irish will change the way you undeerstand the world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 July 1998
Format: Paperback
I read this while working on my MA in History. Fischer provides a thorough and fascinating account of how four distinctive British folkways reproduced themselves in America, as expressed in place names, building styles, cooking, social structure, and even such obscure matters as when children were born. It certainly opened my eyes to how effectively culture perpetuates itself, even 3000 miles away from its roots. I strongly recommend it. I would especially recommend it for its examination of Puritan culture, which has been unfairly depicted by novelists like Nathaniel Hawthorne.
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