What We Are Reading Today: This Land Is Our Land by Jedediah Purdy

Updated 24 September 2019

What We Are Reading Today: This Land Is Our Land by Jedediah Purdy

Today, we are at a turning point as we face ecological and political crises that are rooted in conflicts over the land itself. But these problems can be solved if we draw on elements of our tradition that move us toward a new commonwealth — a community founded on the well-being of all people and the natural world. In this brief, powerful, timely, and hopeful book, Jedediah Purdy, one of our finest writers and leading environmental thinkers, explores how we might begin to heal our fractured and contentious relationship with the land and with each other.

From the coalfields of Appalachia and the tobacco fields of the Carolinas to the public lands of the West, Purdy shows how the land has always united and divided Americans, holding us in common projects and fates but also separating us into insiders and outsiders, owners and dependents, workers and bosses. Expropriated from Native Americans and transformed by slave labor, the same land that represents a history of racism and exploitation could, in the face of environmental catastrophe, bind us together in relationships of reciprocity and mutual responsibility.


What We Are Reading Today: The Puritans: A Transatlantic History by David D. Hall

Updated 21 November 2019

What We Are Reading Today: The Puritans: A Transatlantic History by David D. Hall

This book is a sweeping transatlantic history of Puritanism from its emergence out of the religious tumult of Elizabethan England to its founding role in the story of America. 

Shedding critical new light on the diverse forms of Puritan belief and practice in England, Scotland, and New England, David Hall provides a multifaceted account of a cultural movement that judged the Protestant reforms of Elizabeth’s reign to be unfinished. Hall’s vivid and wide-ranging narrative describes the movement’s deeply ambiguous triumph under Oliver Cromwell, its political demise with the Restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, and its perilous migration across the Atlantic to establish a “perfect reformation” in the New World.

A breathtaking work of scholarship by an eminent historian, The Puritans examines the tribulations and doctrinal dilemmas that led to the fragmentation and eventual decline of Puritanism. It presents a compelling portrait of a religious and political movement that was divided virtually from the start.

In England, some wanted to dismantle the Church of England entirely and others were more cautious, while Puritans in Scotland were divided between those willing to work with a troublesome king and others insisting on the independence of the state church.