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ROGER WILLIAMS AND THE CREATION OF THE AMERICAN SOUL: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty

Editorial Review - Kirkus - Jane Doe

Biography of Roger Williams (1603-1683), the 17th-century rebel whose ideas led to the formation of the Rhode Island colony on the American continent.Popular historian Barry (The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, 2004, etc.) planned to write a book about America during after World War I, with the narrative built around the role of religion in public life. But as he ... Read full review

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I learned a lot reading this book about the early 1600s. It is well-researched, quotes a lot of the original sources, and does an excellent job showing the connections between the different actors in both England and the New World. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about the roots of American views on religion and history buffs.
I come to this book with a very different perspective because I recently found out that Roger Williams is a direct ancestor of mine (8x great-grandfather). While I was somewhat familiar with his background from sharing the same name, I wasn't aware of all the details.
I felt inspired (and inadequate) reading about his life. Not only did he found Rhode Island, he is credited by many historians as originating the concept of governments deriving their authority from the governed instead of from divine rights. He negotiated truces between Native American tribes and English settlements that prevented wars that would have killed thousands. He spoke Latin, Hebrew, Dutch, Greek, French, and several Native American languages. He wrote several books that were sensations in England. He had six children. And by all accounts, he was actually as good a person as he wanted everyone else to be.
I guess since changing the world is in my blood, it's time to get started.
 

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