The Galley Way: Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul

Roger Williams and the Creation of the American soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty, by John M. Barry
I was intrigued by simply the title of this new book. I had taken an Early American literature class in college and read Sarah Vowell’s (highly recommended!) Wordy Shipmates so I was vaguely familiar with Roger Williams and the fact that he was one daring Puritan.

This book was a great treat just to get to know more about Roger Williams, who definitely isn’t as well known as an early American as he perhaps should be. One little quibble I have with this book is that it’s not until about page 136 that Mr. Barry actually focuses his attention on Roger Williams, and instead gives us a LOT of background. While it is interesting to get a little background about Coke’s (Williams’ mentor) influence on Williams, and certainly necessary to get an overview about the history of Puritan involvement in “The New World”, it is not until Barry is discussing the life of Williams himself that the story gets interesting.

Overall if you are a fan of American history (especially a chapter that is not ridiculously over-trod) this would be a good choice.

Note: This book was a Goodreads First Read.
Goodreads rating: ****

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