Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul

  • by John M. Barry
  • Narrated by Richard Poe
  • 17 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This is a story of power, set against Puritan America and the English Civil War. Williams's interactions with King James, Francis Bacon, Oliver Cromwell, and his mentor Edward Coke set his course, but his fundamental ideas came to fruition in America, as Williams, though a Puritan, collided with John Winthrop's vision of his "City upon a Hill.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fascinating Story and Legacy

I remember Roger Williams from my high school and college days as the founder of Rhode Island, but I didn't know much more about him than that. I have four children, all of them adults. I asked each one of them, on separate occasions, if they had studied about Roger Williams in school. Not one of my children had even heard of Roger Williams. That is sad. It is doubly sad because it is such a fascinating story, told extremely well here by one of my favorite authors. He actually was going to write about the home front during World War I, but became intrigued about Roger Williams and the influence on him from Edward Koch, who he worked closely with, and Francis Bacon.

I did not know how strongly he stood for freedom, many times at personal peril. Through this audiobook, I learned to appreciate his independent thought, his courage, his determination, and his advocacy of the cause of freedom, even for those who did not believe as he believed. In fact, especially for those, including the Indians, with whom he had a strong relationship throughout his life. He was much respected by them, even during times of war.

I had thought before that he just gone down to Rhode Island when he was banished from Massachusetts and founded it. End of story. This book completely dispels that notion, detailing the constant struggle to maintain a bastion of freedom and not be swallowed up by the aggressiveness and religious intolerance of the Massachusetts Bay Colonies. This book fills a very definite hole in my understanding of pre-colonial America, despite my having read a number of books on this era. It also gives a very good account of what was happening in England before and during the early colonization of Massachusetts and the surrounding area, during the reigns of James I and Charles I. Highly recommended.
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- Bruce

Wonderful story with lots of context

I originally downloaded this book for some history on Rhode Island (where I live), and was surprised by the amount of political and cultural context it provides, on both sides of the atlantic.

A good deal of the first half is a sweeping tour of the culture and politics in england that pushed people to look to america to escape an increasingly volatile domestic front. It then details the events in the Massachusetts bay colony leading up to williams' exile and the formation of Rhode Island. In turn, it builds him up as the embodiment of the emigration movement, and ultimately of the independent and free spirit that sparked a revolution and led to the foundation of a new nation.

It does a fantastic job of both painting a cultural picture of that time, as well as transposing its visible impact on the classic american frame of mind throughout the years. For a relatively concise book, it really covers a lot of ground in a very entertaining fashion.

The end kind of trailed off unceremoniously, but it wasn't anything that would diminish my strong recommendation to check this one out.

Also -- the narrator is quite good! He's definitely taken an acting class or two -- very dramatic and lively at times.

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- Tim

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-19-2012
  • Publisher: Recorded Books